Rights advocates said Ms. Cheng’s sentence — which may be the first involving a microblog user — highlights the government’s anxiety over social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook, which is also blocked here.
Ms. Cheng, in some ways, personified that fear.
Renee Xia, the international director of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said Ms. Cheng was part of a group of daring freelance advocates known as “weiguan” who travel across the country to show up at courthouses where dissidents are on trial.
Sometimes, when a friend has disappeared into police custody, the weiguan will post to Twitter personal details about the officials involved in the detention. In rare cases, the resulting deluge of phone calls has led to the speedy release of a detainee.
“There is a growing group of people like her, netizens who are moving from cyberspace to the real world,” Ms. Xia said. “Putting her into a labor camp shows that the government is prepared to come down hard on these people.
See another report on this story from the BBC.