November 19, 2010 / 9:19 AM / 7 years ago

Chinese activist sentenced for Twitter post

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have handed out a year-long labor re-education sentence to an online activist for posting on Twitter a satirical message urging people to attack Japan’s pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.

<p>A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles October 13, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

Amnesty International said that Cheng Jianping, who uses the online pseudonym Wang Yi, was given the sentence on Monday for “disturbing social order”.

Cheng’s message was a reposting of her fiance’s tweet, poking fun at Chinese who smashed up Japanese goods during recent protests in China following a dispute between Beijing and Tokyo over islets in the East China Sea, Amnesty said.

The original tweet read: “Anti-Japanese demonstrations, smashing Japanese products, that was all done years ago ... It’s not a new trick. If you really wanted to kick it up a notch, you’d immediately fly to Shanghai to smash the Japanese Expo pavilion”.

Cheng added the phrase: “Angry youth, charge!”, the group said. Her tweet was only retweeted by three people.

“Cheng may be the first Chinese citizen to become a prisoner of conscience on the basis of a single tweet,” Amnesty said in an emailed statement.

“Sentencing someone to a year in a labor camp, without trial, for simply repeating another person’s clearly satirical observation on Twitter demonstrates the level of China’s repression of online expression,” Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s director for the Asia-Pacific, said in the statement.

Amnesty said Cheng has expressed support for jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo on Twitter, and been engaged in other low-level activism.

Twitter is blocked in China, but many dissidents use virtual private networks (VPNs) to skirt the government firewall and its strict controls on what can be said online.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Ben Blanchard

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