Chinese officials probably don’t care much about irony. The latest example came today in Beijing. At the same time China’s Internet censors are intensifying a crackdown on bloggers and other online activity, delegates convened in the capital for a two-day forum on human rights. The official Xinhua news agency reported the summit would attract more than 100 officials, diplomats, and human rights experts from the United Nations and dozens of countries to focus on “constructing an environment for sustainable human rights development.” Among the items on the agenda, according to Xinhua, are “rule of law, the Internet, and the protection of human rights.”
The meeting comes just days after Xinhua reported on harsh new penalties for people who go astray online. According to the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, people who post defamatory rumors online could face three years in jail if those comments are popular enough to attract more than 5,000 readers or more than 500 reposters. Online commenters will also be in danger if the allegedly defamed person commits suicide, hurts him or herself, or suffers from mental disorders.