Home The Shortest Route to Prison? 140 Characters

The Shortest Route to Prison? 140 Characters

Cheng Jianping has wound up in a Chinese “re-education camp” with a record-breaking five words on Twitter. Mocking nationalistic vandalism that flared up around a Chinese-Japanese dispute over the ownership of uninhabited islands, she retweeted another’s message and added the ironic admonition, “Charge, angry youth!”

This was identified by Chinese authority as a violent exhortation and Cheng was arrested, then sentenced to a year in a rural work camp.

The message she retweeted was originally written by her fiancé Hua Chunhui months ago. That tweet read:

“Anti-Japanese demonstrations, smashing Japanese products, that was all done years ago by Guo Quan. It’s no new trick. If you really wanted to kick it up a notch, you’d immediately fly to Shanghai to smash the Japanese Expo pavilion.”

Apparently, adding a cartoonish verbal flourish was enough to get her in trouble, as her fiancé was not arrested. Well, to expect rationality from the Chinese censorship authority is to expect peace and quiet from a Vegas casino.

Others have been arrested for their activities on Twitter, in Venezuela, Guatemala and the U.S. But this is easily a record when measured in years of imprisonment-per-character. If Guinness doesn’t go for it, maybe the Universal Records Database will.

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