China's tasty mess over Ai Weiwei and the internet

The Chinese authorities do seem to be making a right dog’s dinner out of their latest attack on human rights. Let me explain what’s eating me up.

Take one famous artist: Ai Weiwei. Add in a little bit of state criticism. Shake it up a bit. And what do you get? a jail sentence. Well that’s just for starters.

Once freed, bring the emotions to the boil with a tasty tax bill (£1.5m) and serve to aforementioned human rights defender.

Following a whiff of defiance courtesy of a Tweet or two and public donations of over £500,000, finish it all off with a charge of “illegal fundraising”. Absolute insanity.

Ai Weiwei was keen to encourage people to speak out. And frankly that isn’t on the menu as far as the Chinese authorities are concerned. But this is just the latest in a long line of attempts by the Chinese authorities to silence dissent.

Also this week, the great and good of Chinese technology companies have agreed to up the censorship of the country’s internet – as if it wasn’t censored enough as it is. After all, it’s not called the Great Firewall for nothing. Anyway, according to the Independent and the BBC, following a three-day summit hosted by the government, companies including the likes of Baidu and Alibaba agreed to help stop the spreading of “harmful information” over the internet.

So much for freedom of speech! Perhaps, the Chinese authorities could take a lesson out of our book – literally – and download our education pack on the subject. They really could learn a thing or two.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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