Chinese Filmmaker Jailed After Documentary About Constitution

China Quota Wheel Illustration 2014

Shen Yongping's sentencing comes as the government continues to crack down on dissent

A Chinese filmmaker has been sentenced to one year in prison for "illegal business activities" after he made a documentary film about the Chinese constitution.

Shen Yongping's film, A Hundred Years of Constitutionalism, looks at China's constitutional governance from the period of the Qing dynasty, which ended in 1911, until the present day.

President Xi Jinping has taken a hard line against dissent. Scores of activists, writers and artists have been rounded up in recent months.

There has also been a raft of new censorship rules taking aim at new media. The rules will mean TV shows streamed online will have to comply with the same strict standards as traditional broadcasters.

Read more 'Gone With the Bullets' Clears China's Censor

Shen claimed political persecution because he said the charge of "illegal business activities" did not apply, as the DVDs and downloads were free and he didn't profit from the film. His lawyer, Zhang Xuezhong, said the charge was "ridiculous."

Shen's conviction comes soon after a high-level Communist Party meeting, which pledged to uphold the rule of law according to the same constitution.

The Beijing Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said 4,000 copies of the film found at Shen's apartment were illegal publications.

Meanwhile, Facebook has blocked the account of the Chinese dissident writer Liao Yiwu after he posted a photograph of a naked anti-government demonstrator, ostensibly for breaching rules about nudity.

Read more BBC Website Blocked in China

Late last month, Facebook deleted a picture of a Tibetan Buddhist monk committing self-immolation that was posted by the Tibetan writer Woeser.

Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, and local rivals like Tencent's WeChat and Sina's Weibo are hugely popular.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been on a drive to break into China.

Late last year, he delivered a speech in remarkably good Chinese, although some complained that his tones were flat.

He also showed his interest in China by leaving a copy of a book of speeches by President Xi, The Governance of China, lying around on his desk at the HQ in California during a visit by China's chief Internet tsar, Lu Wei, who decides on online standards for China's 632 million users.