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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/11/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Popular posts can net you prison terms of three to ten years.

For those who have hopes of freedom in China, those notions may be premature. The Chinese government has been bolstered by a recent court ruling that permits the government to crack down on users of social media.

Users of Chinese social media need to be careful. A viral tweet or status update could mean prison.

Users of Chinese social media need to be careful. A viral tweet or status update could mean prison.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/11/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: China, free speech, internet, social media, Facebook, Twitter, law, ruling, communist, Burke


HONG KONG, CHINA (Catholic Online) - The Supreme People's Court and Procuratorate has ruled that people who post "false-information" or "slanderous comments" online can be sent to prison for up to three years and those whose comments are viewed by more than 5,000 people can get 10 years.

The Court issued statements regarding the decision on the state-run news service, Xinhua but those statements were standard fare.

"Some internet users fabricate rumors about others and create false information while making use of sensitive social issues, which has disrupted social order and triggered mass incidents," Court spokesman, Sun Jungong was quoted as saying.

On television, the ruling was praised as "timely" and "healthy."

Naturally, advocates for freedom of speech were alarmed. The ruling will permit the Chinese government to pursue people who post comments critical to the state on social media. Anyone, even a foreigner, could be charged.

Chinese society is undergoing a dramatic shift. Social media is connecting China to the rest of the world as never before and providing new free speech opportunities that did not previously exist. The economy is prosperous leading to the rise of a middle-class that is hungry for more everything, including freedom.

Facing China are challenges such as a predominantly male population, a lagging world economy, rampant pollution, and a government that does not seem to keep pace with the times.

However, the government knows control better than most. Government officials are already doing what they can to nip any issues in the bud. The social media ruling is simply one form of attack. Other solutions include the introduction of Edmund Burke to college classrooms.

Edmund Burke was an Irish-born philosopher and member of British Parliament in the 18th century and the father of modern conservatism. His counterrevolutionary writings which would have been taboo decades ago as are gaining new value for the same reason.

As the revolutionary communist government becomes the establishment, any talk of revolution, even in the name of Mao, becomes passť. Burke was critical of violent revolutions, instead suggesting that people change their societies slowly and from within the framework of the existing system.

This is precisely the attitude the government wants to cultivate in the youth.

For now, bloggers and social media personalities in China are worried. Any popular post on social media can invite government persecution.

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