Keep those reforms coming. It really makes me sick beyond words.
A Chinese journalist who worked for a financial newspaper was sentenced Saturday to 10 years in prison on charges of giving state secrets to foreigners.
Shi Tao’s family said the sentence was the minimum possible under his March conviction “illegally providing state secrets to foreigners.” They said the maximum was life in prison.
Shi worked at the Contemporary Business News, a financial publication, and was convicted of leaking the contents of a confidential memo at the paper to a foreign publication, the official Xinhua News Agency said in the first detailed account of charges against him. It didn’t explain the nature of the memo or identify the foreign publication.
Besides working as a journalist, Shi also published Internet essays advocating reforms to China’s one-party system.
The 37-year-old Shi was sentenced by a court in the central city of Changsha. His arrest in November prompted appeals for his release by activists including the international writers group PEN.
A series of Chinese journalists have faced similar charges of violating vague security laws as communist leaders struggle to maintain control of information in the burgeoning Internet era.
China knows how the world sees this. They saw the backlash against the arrest of cyberdissidents Liu Di and Du Daobin. They know how reactionary it makes them appear. They want to clean up their image and join the superpowers club. So why do they keep doing this? What’s their strategy? I can think of only one answer, and that’s to keep potential “troublemakers” in a perpetual state of fear to help ensure “harmony.” That’s a classic technique of a police state, and I really look forward to the day China abandons it.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.