The Chinese authorities attempted to intimidate website founder Huang Qi for speaking out on his “Tianwang” website about a demonstration held by retired workers of Chengdu-based company Nanguang, demanding payment of their pensions. The authorities labeled the workers, “anti-communist activists.” Labor unrests are becoming more frequent in China in recent years. And for Huang Qi to simply report on the Nanguang demonstration, he was accused of being the leader and supporter of the retired workers.

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Prior to this latest development, Huang Qi had already spent time in prison for setting up China’s first domestic human rights website. Starting out as a missing-person search service, the site became a forum for users to post information about human rights and government corruption. Moments before getting detained by the police in June 2000, he posted on his website, “We’ve got a long road ahead of us. Thank you everybody, thanks to all those helping to further democracy in China. They are here now. So long.” In January 2001, he was charged with “incitement of subversion” and tried in secret by the Chengdu Intermediate Court in August 2001. In May 2003, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. His case sparked interest across the world and his website changed host to the US after being banned in China. Reporters Without Borders awarded Huang Qi the 2004 Cyberfreedom Prize.

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