A Chinese student studying in America will go to prison for six months for several tweets criticizing and mocking of the Chinese Communist Party and its leaders.
Not surprising coming from totalitarians, right? Except the student sent out those tweets while studying at the University of Minnesota, where his words were protected by the First Amendment.
:The student, Luo Daiqing, was detained in July in Wuhan after returning home from the spring semester in Minnesota. Luo had posted several tweets critical of the Chinese regime and one of the government’s leaders, likely Xi Jinping.
“In September and October 2018, while he was studying at the University of Minnesota,” a court document obtained by Axios reads, Luo “used his Twitter account to post more than 40 comments denigrating a national leader’s image and indecent pictures” which “created a negative social impact.”
Some of the tweets superimposed Chinese government slogans over pictures of cartoon villain Lawrence Limburger, who resembles Xi, while others contained pictures of Winnie the Pooh, a character currently censored in China after bloggers used the character’s image to criticize Xi.
Senator Ben Sasse called the Chinese Communist response to the criticisms “ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism.”
“The Chinese Communist Party ought to release Luo Daiqing immediately, and the University of Minnesota ought to give him a full-ride scholarship,” said Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) in a statement after hearing of the sentencing. “Don’t forget that the Chinese Communist Party has banned Twitter, so the only people who even saw these tweets were the goons charged with monitoring Chinese citizens while they’re enjoying freedom here in the United States. This is what ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism looks like.”
It doesn’t help when Americans acquiesce to the suppression of views by the Chinese.
In October, when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted one tweet in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, the Chinese Basketball Association immediately cut all ties with the team. The U.S. National Basketball Association apologized to China, drawing harsh condemnation from U.S. lawmakers.
You would like to see the State Department register a strong protest of the Chinese government’s actions in sending someone critical of the regime while in America to jail. Luo Daiqing was well within his rights to speak his mind while in the U.S. At the very least, the U.S. government should defend his free speech rights as vigorously as possible.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting this morning that Luo Daiqing may have been released. The reasons aren’t clear, and no one knows if it’s but a temporary reprieve or not. The paper received an email from Luo’s university account saying he had been sentenced but released since then. It should be pointed out that totalitarian governments are noted for faking prisoners’ communications to keep families quiet, or in this case, taking the heat off of officials for their actions.
The Chinese government may be trying to intimidate others by making an example of Luo for the 8,000 other Chinese students attending class in America. Study hard and keep your mouth shut, appears to be the message.
Given the consequences, most will take that to heart.