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What’s the price of a Tweet?
As Twitter attempts to drum up another round of financing at the valuation of $3 billion, that’s what potential investors want to know.
But for 46 year-old Chinese woman, Cheng Jianping, aka @wangyi09, the price of a Tweet is valued at one year in a labor camp.
Last month, Cheng RT’ed a message (see above) originally posted by her fiance, Hua Chunhui, satirically suggesting that young Chinese nationalists who had been staging recent anti-Japanese rallies should attack the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. They were both arrested not long after on the day they were to be married; Hua was released five days later. That Cheng was sentenced to a year of hard labor without a trial while Hua was not may have to do with the fact that Cheng has gotten into trouble for her social media activity in the past. From the NY Times:
Widely known by the online name Wang Yi, Ms. Cheng is avidly followed by a small coterie of Chinese intellectuals who subscribe to Twitter, which is blocked in China but can be reached by those willing to burrow beneath the government’s firewall. Most recently Ms. Cheng sent out messages praising the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the imprisoned rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Last August, she was briefly detained after expressing sympathy for a detained democracy advocate, Liu Xianbin.
While Chinese users of Twitter are subjected to a 140 character-limit like the rest of us, in Chinese, one character equals one word, so the limit roughly translates to 140 words. For this reason, Twitter has become popular in China among political activists.
Counting spaces and punctuation, the Tweet that landed Cheng in a labor camp for a year was 79 characters, which roughly translates to 4.6 days of imprisonment per word.
Filed under: @wangyi09, Cheng Jianping, China, China and Twitter, China Censorship, Chinese Labor Camps, Chinese Nationalists, Chinese Re-education Camps, Chinese Twitter Users, Free Cheng Jianping, Fucked Up Shit, Hua Chunhui, Human Rights, Injustices, Microblogging, Political Satire, Price of a Tweet, Satire, Social Media, Social Networking, The Politics of Social Media, This is Bullshit, Tweets, Twitter, Watch Your Words, What Price Twitter?, Woman Sentenced to Hard Labor for Tweet in China
The folks over at Gizmodo recently discovered, with the help of Google Suggest, that there seem to be an unusual amount of folks searching the Web for the subject: “I am extremely terrified of Chinese people.”
Curious, right? Fortunately, our friend Phil over at Angry Asian Man did a bit of debunking homework, digging up the most likely source for the popular search: an article entitled “I Am Extremely Terrified of Chinese People” on the satirical site Christwire.
Still, before I knew about the article, I wondered, are Chinese people actually so scary? Moreover, could I possibly be scared of Chinese people? Well, I told myself, Jen is the Chinese person I know best. But despite her sharp tongue and freaky-brilliant mind, she’s the most fun, kind, genuine, warm, generous, honest, caring person I know. What’s so terrifying about that? I can’t possibly fear Chinese people!
Jen also has–and I’m sure I’ve talked about this before–one of the most exquisite closets I’ve ever walked into, and she is eager to loan me a frock faster than a person can check out a library book (See? Very not-scary). She never asks for anything in return, and I always watch over the dresses as if they were my own child.
But (here is where my mind wanders) y’know what, if something were ever to happen–like an ungodly splash of wine, a drycleaning mishap, or somebody’s cigarette ash on my sleeve…
OH GOD. I. WOULD BE. SO INCREDIBLY TERRIFIED. OF ONE. VERY SPECIFIC. CHINESE PERSON. AND HER. VERY ANGRY. ANGRY. EYES.
So yeah, um, I guess it’s possible.