China Is Now Sending Twitter Users to Prison for Posts Most Chinese Can’t See

China Is Now Sending Twitter Users to Prison for Posts Most Chinese Can’t See

More than 50 people have been jailed in past three years in an escalation of Communist Party assault on use of foreign social media

HONG KONG—China’s Communist Party is amping up efforts to control its image around the world by jailing Chinese citizens, many of them ordinary people with little influence, who use foreign social media to criticize Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his government.

Chinese authorities have sentenced more than 50 people to prison in the past three years for using Twitter and other foreign platforms—all blocked in China—allegedly to disrupt public order and attack party rule, according to a Wall Street Journal examination of court records and a database maintained by a free-speech activist.

The growing use of prison sentences marks an escalation of China’s efforts to control narratives and strangle criticism outside China’s cloistered internet. In the past, the suppression of views on foreign social media was enforced mostly through detentions and harassment, rarely by imprisoning people, human-rights activists say.