Chinese Sociologist Calls for Porn Law Reform

Chinese Sociologist Calls for Porn Law Reform
Michael Hayes
BEIJING — A prominent Chinese sociologist has called China’s anti-pornography law outdated in response to a court ruling sentencing adult webmaster Chen Hui to life in prison for operating PornographicSummer.com.

Hui ran four adult paysites, starting with PornographicSummer.com in 2004, which reportedly garnered more than 600,000 paying members at up to $33 per signup. PornographicSummer.com, also known as Qingseliuyuetian, was considered one of the largest Chinese adult websites in existence. VIP members are believed to have paid $500 for full access to the site.

The law in question, which forbids the sale, production and distribution of pornography, drew the ire of sociologist Li Yinhe, who said China is the only modern country with such a law on its books.

Yinhe called the recent decision by the Taiyuan Intermediate People’s Court to sentence Hui to life in prison “unfair.”

In addition to a life sentence, Hui will have to pay a $12,500 fine for violating the law.

Writing in her blog, Yinhe made a three-point case against the controversial law, arguing that it is contrary to China’s constitution, which entitles all Chinese citizens to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Yinhe added that the law is discriminatory because it reflects an upper class value system, without taking into account the rest of Chinese society.

Yinhe also said the law should be repealed because enforcement is so ineffective that only 1 out of 100 people who break the law face sentences like the one meted out to Hui.

Between September and November, China’s Ministry of Public Security said it shut down 598 porn websites and wiped out 35 porn domain names.

Fudan University law professor Ji said he disagreed with Yinhe’s comments, adding that the U.S. and several European countries have tough anti-pornography laws. The difference, he said, is that the pornography business in China is largely an underground operation.

Ji accused Yinhe of playing the class card in her criticism of the law, saying that the sociologist was pandering and twisting social values.

Ji also said ineffective enforcement was not a good reason to overturn the law.

In the meantime, Hui has until Dec. 2 to file an appeal in his case. Sources close to the webmaster say they expect him to challenge the life sentence.