A young Chinese man has been handed a prison sentence for challenging China's Communist party as it prepares to hand over power to a new generation of leaders. The harsh ruling is a strong signal that dissent will not be tolerated during the once-a-decade transition.
A court in Kumming has sentenced 27-year-old Cao Haibo to eight years in prison for "subversion of state power". Cao, who is not a known dissident, tried to start an opposition party, the China Republican party, and sent text messages to friends in which he called for an end to one-party rule. His lawyer says, "He really did not know that the party would take it this seriously," noting that his political experiment existed for only one day online.
As Cao found out the hard way, China's leaders are taking things very seriously as they prepare for next week's 18th Communist party congress. Chinese President Hu Jintao will hand over his position as party chief to Xi Jinping, his preselected successor. The ruling politburo standing committee will change as well. This transfer of power happens only once every 10 years, and with China facing daunting challenges economically, politically and diplomatically, officials are taking no chances on any outbreaks of "instability". Security is very tight in Beijing, and anything that might spoil the government's show of order and unity is being monitored or stamped out.
Read more: The Wall Street Journal looks at how the upcoming Communist party congress is likely to juggle the need for "reform" with the imperatives of maintaining power.
Sources: Guardian, Business Insider, Avaaz, Telegraph, Wall Street Journal