Document 1 of 11.
Copyright 1998 International Herald Tribune
International Herald Tribune (Neuilly-sur-Seine, France)
November 17, 1998, Tuesday
SECTION: News; Pg. 2
LENGTH: 495 words
HEADLINE: China Asserts Shanghai Man Used Internet For Subversion
BYLINE: By Erik Eckholm; New York Times Service
The trial of a 30-year-old computer executive, soon to begin in Shanghai,
heralds a new electronic battleground for China's political dissidents and
security forces determined to preserve Communist Party control.
Lin Hai, is charged with ''inciting subversion of state power.''
Prosecutors say that from September 1997 until his arrest in March, Mr. Lin
gave tens of thousands of Chinese e-mail addresses to ''hostile foreign
In particular, they say, he provided addresses to an electronic newsletter
called VIP Reference, which is compiled by Chinese democracy advocates in
Washington and sent to hundreds of thousands of computer-users inside China.
According to the indictment, Mr. Lin helped the newsletter ''carry out
propaganda and incitement
by distributing essays inciting subversion of state power and overthrow of the
Mr. Lin appears to be the first legal casualty of a growing struggle, as
Internet users here and abroad make shreds of the government's efforts to
censor political debate and filter foreign news. VIP Reference is the most
prominent of several electronic forums that are breaching China's information
''We're promoting freedom of speech on the Internet,'' said Feng Donghai, a
software engineer at Columbia University in New York. He moved to the United
States three years ago and helped start VIP
Reference last fall. ''They are putting Lin Hai on trial to set an example.''
The main VIP Reference, sent out every 10 days, mostly includes essays and
debates on democratic topics. A subsidiary Daily News edition, sent daily,
accounts of dissident initiatives and arrests.
The main newsletter is now sent to more than 250,000 addresses in China, said
its publisher, Lian Shengde, who spoke from Washington. The Daily News edition
goes to about 25,000, and the numbers are steadily climbing as sympathizers
send in lists of Chinese addresses.
newsletter accepts addresses indiscriminately - many are from commercially
traded lists - then mails to everyone. The theory is that when so many are
automatic recipients, individuals cannot be accused of deliberately
''We're posing a new problem for the Communists,'' said Mr. Lian, a software
engineer in his 30s
who moved from China after the 1989 military crackdown on student-led
demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. ''I don't think there's any way
they can stop us.''
Another, similar publication is Tunnel, a self-described ''webzine'' of
commentary written in China and
sent electronically to the United States from where it is wired back to
thousands of accounts inside China.
The sites, which require Chinese-script software, are at www.ifcss.org/ftp-
pub/org/dck for VIP Reference and www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Bay/5598 for
China now has some 1.2 million Internet accounts, many shared by several users,
with the numbers zooming.
LOAD-DATE: November 17, 1998
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