In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Tiananmen dissident Chen Ziming described how his efforts towards setting up a website called Reform and Construction went down the drain after the site became popular. Chen was sentenced to 13 years in prison because the authorities blamed him and his colleague Wang Juntao for the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests based on their leading roles in the Beijing Social and Economic Sciences Research Institute and journal publications. His prison term was completed off and on in jail and in the form of house arrest. Even after the official prison term ended in 2002, Chen continues to be under heavy surveillance.

In 2004, Chen and He Jiadong were approved to set up the website. The site received enough visits that it had to be moved to a larger server. The site was shut down in August 2005 during the server transition. Chen demanded an explanation from the authorities but he never received any. His conclusion for this experience is the most fitting description for the internet censorship environment in China:

“They just pull the plug on you, because they can.”

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