Is there a thing called Chinese ‘online control’?
More than a year ago, two Chinese nationals were arrested in the comfort of their homes by Beijing police. Friends and families of the two were clueless on why they were arrested. One of their assumptions was their alleged involvement in putting out censored news on the Internet. Now, the two men have pleaded guilty on their charges.
Wei and Mei arrests
ABC News reported, Chen Mei, 28, and Cai Wei, 27, were arrested more than a year ago in Beijing. Turned out, the two suspects were also amateur computer coders involved in spreading Chinese censored news to the public. On Tuesday, May 11, the two parties pleaded guilty for “stirring up trouble and picking quarrels” on the Chinese Internet.
As further explained on the reports, Mei and Wei were arrested by the police after they created an online archive that stored articles that had been censored from the Chinese internet. Aside that, there’s also an open online forum inside the page that allowed people to discuss different Chinese government topics anonymously.
This was illegal in the Chinese law. In fact, President Xi Jinping eliminated the concept of online anonymity by making sure all users register with their real profiles. All social media accounts must be tied with their personal phone number, which is tied to an individual’s national ID number.
With this said, allowing a platform to openly discussed topics without their real names behind it is an issue in the Chinese government. What is worse was that Mei and Wei’s articles were censored over the issues of spreading information against the government itself.
“If I can shoulder the consequences for him, I would”
Parents of the two suspects said that they haven’t been able to talked to Mei and Wei for over a year since they were arrested.
Mei’s mother said that she only heard his son speak when he said that he was ‘guilty’ over his charges. Meanwhile, Wei’s father said “If I can shoulder the consequences for him, I would.”
According to the narration, the lawyers of the two warned them to not speak throughout the session to improve their case.
How to platform works
Before the platform of Wei and Mei was removed, anonymous friends on the community shared what’s happening on the platform. Channel News Asia reported that the platforms called Terminus2049 archive and 2049bbs forum was originally created in 2018 as a “public platform of free exchange.”
A friend of Wei, shared that Chinese censorship has become a problem in the country for over the years now.
“It’s not just the ‘real name’ system – the deletions of posts, the bans, have reached a point that’s really shocking domestically,” said unnamed friend of Wei. “When you have to worry about whether you have touched a sensitive keyword in any post you write, how can you really have the brave desire to express yourself?”
So far, the Chinese officials have not yet commented on the issues of ‘online control’ claims against them.