Du Daobin gets suspended sentence as China sets up “vigilante web site”

Du Daobin, who threatened China’s stability by posting some essays on the Internet that questioned the wisdom of one-party rule, has been given a light sentence of three years in jail, suspended for four years. I think that means he’s going to be under house arrest.

Others found guilty of similar crimes have been far less lucky, some going to prison for as long as 11 years.

This was fairly predictable, since Du had become an international cause celebre. Five months ago I wrote, “Despite police reluctance, Liu Di was finally released, and the smart money will be on Du’s release as well. There is simply too much international attention on the case, and the government now has little choice.”

But to prevent the sprouting up of new mini-Du’s, China has announced the creation of a “vigilante web site” Chinese surfers can use to report pornography sites and, one would assume, cyberdissidents who threaten to destroy China’s stability with their lethal essays and doodlings.

The authorities behind the new website claimed at its launch that it would protect the common interest of Chinese web surfers and guide the healthy development of the internet.

On the site’s homepage is a space where examples of web abuse can be reported.

Officials said the privacy of those who reported offending web sites would be protected, while their operators would be warned to remove the material.

The officials stressed that the main aim of the site was to protect young people from harmful material, pornography in particular.

The problem is, “harmful” is in the eye of the beholder. We all know that the CCP sees harm in a lot of stuff that a sane and secure government would see as harmless. (Remember, they shut down Vagina Monologues and insist on policing Britney’s wardrobe.)

In any event, as the article points out, this is just another step on China’s part to strengthen government control of the Internet, an effort that I supect (and hope) is doomed to failure.

Update: Much more on Du Daobin over at Reporters without Borders.

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