In Guizhou, one Peng Biao went to prison just for sending to friends a QR code allowing to download the “Shenzhou Mingmei” application.
by Yang Feng
Sharing a QR code allowing to download an app the government does not approve of may seem but a minor offense. Not in China, and not if the QR code leads to downloading and installing an app known as “Shenzhou Mingmei,” though which one can access a number of Falun Gong websites.
One who had to learn painfully that this is a very serious crime in China is 59-year-old Peng Biao, a man from Panzhou city, Guizhou province. On March 24, 2020, Peng obtained a QR code for the app “Shenzhou Mingmei” from a friend. He downloaded the application, liked what he saw, and on March 26 shared the QR code with his WeChat friends. As it happens often on the Internet, friends in turn shared with friends, and in the end some 1,200 people had downloaded the forbidden app.
The problem was that WeChat is under constant watch by the police. Peng was arrested on March 28, two days after he had shared the QR code, and his arrest was formalized on April 30.
He was tried on December 4, 2020 before the People’s Court of Zhongshan district, Liupanshui city, Guizhou province, and found guilty under Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code. Article 300 punishes those who “use” a xie jiao, i.e., a banned religious movement “to undermine the enforcement of the law.” We are always admired how creative and wide-raging is the interpretation of Article 300 by Chinese courts. Sharing a QR code was regarded as “using a xie jiao to undermine the enforcement of the law,” and Peng was sentenced to three and a half years in jail.
Regular readers of Bitter Winter should have no doubts about it, but once again the verdict made it clear that not only leaders, but all those who are active or promote a xie jiao in any capacity go to jail under Article 300, and that any activity on behalf of a banned group is regarded as a “use” of it “undermining the enforcement of the law.”
On February 23, 2021, the Intermediate People’s Court of Liupanshui city, Guizhou province, rejected Peng’s appeal and confirmed the verdict. Peng should remain in jail, meditating on the dire consequences of downloading and sharing the wrong app in China.