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China 6 August 2002

Internet : a chronicle of repression

24 January 2002 - At the beginning of January, the Minister for Information and Technology decreed a new law, which requires ISPs to implement new measures in terms of monitoring information on the Internet. Access providers operating in "strategic and sensitive areas", news and forum sites in particular, must now record information about visitors to these sites, such as their Internet access IDs, their postal addresses and their telephone numbers. It is also requested that they install software to monitor and copy the contents of "sensitive" e-mail messages. According to this new law, ISPs must therefore interrupt the transfer of e-mails containing obscene or "subversive" content, praising "terrorism", or which pose a threat to "national security and unity". Authors of such e-mail messages must be denounced to the Ministry of Information and Technology, the Ministry of Law and Order, and the State Secrets Bureau. In addition, foreign companies selling software in China must now commit themselves in writing to say they will not install spy systems on Chinese computers. This legislation completes the sixty or so other provisions already adopted on January 31, 2001.

On January 14th 2002, Lu Xinhua, member of the Chinese Democratic Party (PDC), is said to have been condemned last December, to four-year imprisonment by the Middle Court of Wuhan (province of Hubei, central China). The cyber-dissident is accused of having criticised the president Jiang Zemin in an article circulating on the Internet. While arresting him on last March 11th, the police had ransacked his domicile and forfeited his computer.

On 13 December 2001, six followers of the Falungong spiritual movement were sentenced to prison terms of up to twelve years for "publishing subversive information on the Internet". According to the Centre for Information on Human Rights and Democracy based in Hong Kong, an official with the first intermediary people’s court of Beijing confirmed the conviction of two professors from the prestigious Tsinghua University and two other Falungong followers for publishing in China, on the Internet, information on this spiritual movement which has been banned since 1999. According to the Centre, Yao Yue, a microelectronics researcher at Tsinghua University, received a twelve-year prison sentence. Two other professors at the university, Meng Jun and Wang Xin, were sentenced to ten and nine years in jail, and Dong Yanhong, a university employee, and her husband, Liu Wenyu, received sentences of five and three years. A student from Shanghai, Wang Xuefei, received an eleven-year sentence.

On 27 December 2001, the government news agency Xinhua (News of China) announced that Quan Huicheng, a follower of the spiritual movement Falungong, had been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for downloading, photocopying and distributing documents from Falungong web sites based abroad. Quan Huicheng was arrested in October near a cybercafé in Dongfang on the coast of the southern Chinese island of Hainan.

On 20 November, the Chinese daily Wen Hui Bao asserted that more than 17,000 Chinese cybercafés were closed for failing to block access to "pornographic" or "subversive" websites. This is the result of a governmental campaign to check all cybercafés, launched in April 2001 by the authorities. Only one half of the 94,000 cybercafés had systems able to block access to banned websites. According to the governmental daily quoted by the agency Associated Press, these blocks were made compulsory by the Internet laws passed in 2000.

On 14 November, the trial of Wang Jinbo started in Shandong province (east of the country). According to his father, the district court of Junan adjourned the first day of the trial without giving a date for the next hearing, nor pronouncing a judgement. Only members of the dissident’s family are allowed to attend the trial.

On 6 November, we learned that Wang Jinbo, member of the Chinese Democratic Party, charged with sending critical emails against the authorities, will be sentenced on 14 November for "subversion" by a Junan court, in the eastern province of Shandong. This 29 year-old dissident was arrested in May 2001, mainly for his demands on the Internet for the revision of the official verdict on the 1989 democratic movement and for the release of political prisoners.

On 29th October, as soon as Georges W. Bush jetted out of Shangai, Chinese authorities again blocked access to several US media’s websites, among them those of CNN and the Washington Post.

On 16 October, Beijing authorities closed the Zhejiang bulletin board on theChinese website, reserved for Chinese journalists. The website is charged with "spreading subversive information" and "slandering state leaders and government bodies". Under the authorities’ pressure, the forum’s webmaster was fired and the administrators responsible for the site must strengthen the management of their other bulletin boards. China holds websites’ administrators responsible for the content of forums and chat room on their sites. The authorities have refused to answer questions from the foreign press about the shutting down of Zhejiang, which occurs during the APEC summit in Shanghai.

On 16 October, China unblocked access to several American media websites, among them those the New York Times and The Washington Post, during the Forum of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which is being held in Shanghai. Access to other websites considered dangerous by the Chinese government, such as the BBC or the spiritual movement Falungong’s websites, remain banned to Chinese web users as to Foreign journalists who cover the summit

24 September 2001: the following web sites are currently inaccessible from China: (Human Rights Watch in China web site), (Human Right Watch web site),,, (Amnesty International web sites), (freetibet organisation web site), (Tibetan government in exile web site), (CNN web site), (BBC web site), (Washington Post web site), (cyberdissident Huang Qi’s web site) and (Online dissident newsletter VIP Reference’s web site).

14 September 2001: Zhu Ruixiang, lawyer and former editor with Shaoyang Radio Station, was charged with "subversion" and sentenced to three years in prison by the Shaoyang Court (Hunan province, centre of China) after he forwarded to twelve of his friends some articles from the pro-democratic on-line daily VIP Reference ( criticising the government. In the initial trial, he had been sentenced only to nine months’ imprisonment, deeming that his crimes were not so "serious". But Chinese authorities told the court to be tougher. He was arrested on May 8 and Shaoyang police confiscated all his property, including his computer.

6 September 2001: The bulletin board called Baiyun Huanghe ( in Huazhong University of Science and Technology (centre of the country) is closed. This closure was ordered by the State Council after students posted articles about the Tiananmen Square massacre. Baiyun Huanghe was created five years ago and had 30,000 registered users. The bulletin board was closely interested in politics and especially cases of corruption. Until last year, students could freely express themselves on this forum about taboo subjects such as the Beijing Spring. The Chinese Communist Party’ information control finally succeeded in closing this forum, judged "subversive" by the authorities. (consult the protest letter )

4 September 2001: Chinese authorities have blocked the web sites of the American TV channel CNN, the newspaper International Herald Tribune, the French radio station RFI, the English radio station BBC and the American chapter of Amnesty International as well as some links to humanitarian organisations (such as Médecins sans frontières), as President Jiang Zemin is due to travel to North Korea. These media contain information about famine and repression in this country, which is an ally of Beijing.

3 September 2001: We learn that web sites close to the communist Party, China Bulletin, an on-line political magazine, and Tianya Zongheng, an Internet forum based in Haikou (Hainan province), were closed last month after they published articles criticizing President Jiang Zemin and his desire to see more economic opening for the Chinese Communist regime. These closings follow the "ideological cleansing" called for by Jiang Zemin in his speech of 1 July 2001.

22 August 2001: According to the official newspaper People’s Daily, the ministry of Culture asked the local authorities to launch a "spiritual cleansing" campaign to close down illegal Internet bars. During a conference about "controlling corruption and decadence" held in Beijing on 20 August 2001, provincial representatives of the State were asked to no longer issue new licences and fight against illegal activities of web bars.

14 August 2001: Chen Qiulan, a 47 year-old follower of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, died of a heart attack in the Daging detention center (Heilongjiang province, North-East of the country). He was arrested on July 2001 for having circulated informationconcerning Falun Gong over the Internet.

14 August 2001: Huang Qi’s trial (sign the petition ), cancelled many times during the last fourteen months, "was held in camera in a two-hour session at the Chengdu Intermediate Court" said his lawyer, Fang Jung. The sentence has not been announced for the moment. According to Fang, none of the family members of the creator of was allowed to attend to the hearing. The camera of Huang Qi’s wife was seized because she took a picture of her husband as he was being brought to court. Huang Qi appeared "thin but smiling" according to a relative. His trial is the first case against a web site creator for having spread "subversive" information.

13 August 2001: Mu Chuanheng was arrested in Qingdao (eastern China) for having openly request the release of his friend Yan Peng, a cyber dissident arrested on 11 July 2001 in Guangxi province (south of the country). Mu Chuanheng’s computer and some of his writings were seized by a dozen policemen. The dissident is well known for being active in the first "Beijing Spring" in 1979.

2 August 2001: The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, based in Hong Kong, announced that Falun Gong follower Li Changjun died on 27 June 2001 under torture during his detention. He was arrested on 16 May for downloading and printing documents concerning Falun Gong from Internet. Li Changjun, aged 33, worked in the Wuhan land tax authority in Hubei province (center of China), and had been arrested several times for maintaining his membership to what the authorities call the "evil sect". Li Changjun’s mother said her son’s body was covered with wounds and cuts, that his neck and ears were purple and that he looked abnormally weak.

1st August 2001: Since the beginning of July, the pages in Mandarin Chinese on the Radio France Internationale (RFI) web site have been blocked for Chinese Internet users. These people can no longer listen to the programs of the Chinese service available on the site. RFI’s executive direction plans to ask the Chinese government for some explanations.

14 July 2001: The day after the vote awarding the 2008Summer Olympics to Beijing, RSF learned that Yan Pen, a 38-year old dissident and computer salesman, was arrested on 11 July in the province of Guagxi (southern China). According to the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, he returned to China after a group package tour of Vietnam. He is accused of suspicion of illegal emigration. Police of Qingdao (Shandong province, south-west of the country), where Yan Pen was born, informed his wife that he had been arrested. His computer had also been confiscated. On 16 July, three Qingdao dissidents tried to intervene in favour of Yan Pen’s release, but the police refused. Yan Pen is known for being one of the first dissidents to use the Internet in the struggle against the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship. He has been detained repeatedly since 1989. The seaside city of Qingdao plans to hold yachting competitions during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

11 July 2001: On the occasion of a Chinese Communist Party conference, President Jiang Zemin has called to the Internet Laws reinforcement that he judges insufficient in order to prevent the spreading of "harmful information". Although he recognizes the Internet contribution in the economic growth of China, Jiang Zemin sentenced the presence on web sites of "superstition, pornography and violence" which undermines the ’population and youth’s mental health’.

4 July 2001: The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs website ( is once again accessible in China after being blocked for eighteen months. The unblocking of the web site follows an appeal from the Australian Foreign Minister to China’s chargé d’affaires in Canberra, Xie Xiaoyan. Inaccessible to Chinese Internet users for more than one year, the web site reappeared briefly during a visit of the Australian Communication Minister, Richard Alston, last June. The Chinese government spokeswoman denies any censorship and claims that technical problems caused the site to be blocked. In addition, she said "the government never got in the way of solving the problem and even offered its assistance". But, according to several observers, the real reason the site was blocked is the presence of information on the web site, notably about human rights and the risks of conflict in parts of China.

2 July 2001: RSF learned that Li Hongmin was arrested in the middle of June in Guangzhou (South of China) for having distributed, by e-mail, the 2001 Chinese version of "The Tiananmen Papers". The text reveals the responsibilities of certain high Chinese officials in the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989.

2 July 2001: Chinese police statistics show that at least 8,014 cybercafés were closed in the last two months. 56,800 cybercafés were also inspected during this period.

image 243 x 153 (GIF) 27 June 2001: the trial of Huang Qi, arrested on 3 June 2000 for having published "subversive" information on his web site, was again postponed indefinately by the intermediate court of Chengdu (southwest of the country). A spokesman justified this decision by saying it was because of the celebration of the "80th anniversary of the creation of the Chinese communist Party." But, according to some observers, it is more a question of not wanting to attract the attention of international public opinion before the IOC’s decision in Moscow of the attribution of the 2008 Olympic Games. Judges had already suspended the trial on 13 February 2001 because of Huang Qi’s health. The creator of the site risks at least ten years in prison if he is found guilty of "subversion" according to the law on the circulation of subversive information over the Internet.

18 June 2001: the online magazine "Hot Topic" is banned after four years of activity. This magazine notably published articles criticising the government. It has 235,000 subscribers.

2 June 2001: Wang Zhenyong, a professor of psychology in South-western Normal University, is arrested to have sent four articles about the Falungong movement by e-mail. He had downloaded these articles from foreign sites in December 2000 before sending them to a colleague, who then circulated them on Internet.

1st June 2001: RSF learns that Liu Weifang, a shopkeeper, was sentenced in Spring 2001 by a court of the Xinjiang province (northwest of the country), to three years in prison for "subversion". He was accused of having published several very critical articles the Chinese communist Party, on newsgroups in 2000 and 2001, as well as texts against and about the economic reforms begun by the government. In spite of his use of a pen name, "Lgwf", the police managed to identifying him.

18 May 2001: Hu Dalin was arrested by police of Shaoyang (southwest of the country) for having published articles written by his father on the Internet. He was not charged, but the police notified his family that he had been arrested for "subversive activities on the Internet".

14 May 2001: Wang Jinbo, a member of the Chinese Democratic Party (a banned party, whose main leaders are imprisoned), who had already been arrested in the past for his political activities, was arrested by policemen in Junan (province of Shandong) for having "slandered" the police on a web site.

image 210 x 155 (JPEG) 5 May 2001: A statement of the public telecommunications company "Xinjiang Telecommunications" announces that, from now on, all Internet portals not officially registered will be automatically closed.

30 April 2001: Wang Sen, a member of the Chinese Democratic Party, was arrested in Dachuan, province of Sichuan (southwest of the country), for having denounced on a web site the sale at full price, by a public health centre, of tuberculosis medicine donated by the Red Cross.

29 April 2001: the authorities decide to close cybercafés on the main avenue of Beijing and in a perimeter of 200 metres around Chinese Communist Party buildings and the schools of the capital.

26 April 2001: Guo Quinghai, a 36-year-old bank employee, was sentenced to four years in jail by the court of Cangzhou (south of the country) for "subversion", according to the law on the Internet adopted in December 2000. He was arrested in September 2000 for having published articles in favour of democracy and political reforms on overseas web sites. Although he used a pen name to sign his articles, the police managed to identify him.

20 April 2001: Accused of "subversion", Lu Xinhua was arrested in Wuhan (centre of the country). He is the author of many articles that appeared on foreign web sites, giving information about violations of human rights in Wuhan, and openly criticising Chinese president Jiang Zemin.

18 April 2001: Leng Wanbao, a dissident from Jilin province (northeast of the country), was interrogated for more than two hours by police who blamed him for the appearance of "subversive articles" on the Internet.

14 April 2001: China decided to suspend the opening of new cybercafés for three months to regulate Web access.

26 March 2001: computer users in the Shanghai area were informed that it is forbidden to broadcast radio programs or circulate them on the Internet without official government approval.

image 107 x 104 (JPEG) 13 March 2001: Yang Zili, creator of, was arrested in Beijing while leaving his house. The same day, his wife was detained for 48 hours, and forced to state, in writing, that she would not reveal this event. Yang Zili, 30 years old, a graduate of the prestigious University of Beijing, is the author of a series of theoretical articles published on his web site. He took a stand in favour of political liberalism, criticised the repression against the Falungong spiritual movement, and denounced the difficulties of farmers. In a poem, he calls for "striking a fatal blow" against the "spectre of communism". Since his arrest, the police has refused to reveal the charges and the place where Yang Zili is being held. The same day, three other writers for, Jin Haike, a geological engineer, Xu Wei, a journalist with "Consumer Daily", and Zhang Honghai, a freelance reporter, were questioned by police in Beijing.

6 March 2001: After the explosion that destroyed an elementary school in Fanglin (Kiangxi province) and caused the death of 38 children, a person in charge of declared that he had erased hundred of messages from the newsgroup complaining about the explosion. The villagers deny the government version, that attributes the attack to an insane person named Li Chuicai. They claim that schoolteachers forced the children to make fireworks in the school.

28 February 2001: the Ministry of Law and Order launched a new software program known as "Internet police 110", created to block access to web sites dealing with religion, sex or violence.

image 150 x 165 (JPEG) 13 February 2001: Huang Qi’s trial was adjourned by the intermediate court of Chengdu (southwest of the country) after only one day of hearings. He was arrested on 3 June 2000 for having circulated sensitive political news on his web site. A spokesman of the court said that the trial was postponed for one week because of the defendant’s poor health. His wife, Zeng Li, said that her husband was beaten in prison and has a scar on his forehead. He also lost a tooth the beatings. She was not allowed to visit him, and his lawyer has only seen him once in seven months.

1st February 2001: police in Chongquing (southwest of China) force cybercafé owners to install firewall software on their computers to identify and block sites that are against "public morality".

31 December 2000: Jiang Shihua, a teacher and owner of the "Silicon Valley Internet Café", was sentenced to two years in jail in December 2000 by a court in Nanchong (province of Sichuan, southwest) for "inciting subversion against the power of the state". Jiang Shihua was arrested on 18 August 2000 for having published a letter, in the Nanchong city hall site’s newsgroup, in which he disputed the role of the Chinese communist Party. The text, signed under the pen name Shumin (common citizen), discussed the corruption of Party officials. Jiang Shihua notably wrote, "we have in mind all the sentences that we shall never say: knock down the communist Party."

29 july 2000 : Zhang Haitao, a computer scientist and creator of the only China-based Falungong web site, was arrested on 29 July 2000, five days after the authorities banned his site. On 11 October 2000, in Changchun (Jilin province), he was indicted for "subversion" and for promoting Falungong on the Internet. He had published a petition on line against the Chinese authorities’ ban of the spiritual movement.

A list of Chinese Internet users detained for having circulated information considered "subversive" by the authorities:

04.2002. Li Dawei

13.12.2001. Dong Yanhong

13.12.2001. Liu Wenyu

13.12.2001. Yao Yue

13.12.2001. Meng Jun

13.12.2001. Wang Xin

13.12.2001. Wang Xuefei

13.08.2001. Mu Chuanheng

11.07.2001. Yan Pen

2.06.2001. Wang Zhenyong

10.06.2001. Li Hongmin

14.05.2001. Wang Jinbo

18.05.2001. Hu Dalin

8.05.2001. Zhu Ruixiang

1.05.2001. Liu Haofeng

30.04.2001. Wang Sen

20.04.2001. Lu Xinhua

21.03.2001. Liu Weifang

13.03.2001. Jin Haike

13.03.2001. Zhang Honghai

13.03.2001. Xu Wei

13.03.2001. Yang Zili

11.10.2000. Zhang Haitao

8.10.2000. Zhang Ji

1.09.2000. Guo Quinghai

18.08.2000. Jiang Shihua

3.06.2000. Huang Qi

2.09.1999. Qi Yanchen

19.06.1999. Wu Yilong

19.06.1999. Zhu Yufu

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in the annual report
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