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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

China Cracking Down on Internet Discussion Groups


Asia Times Online - News from greater China; Hong Kong and Taiwan


"China is cracking down Internet news discussion websites in an effort to stifle dissent as it prepares for the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), which opens on Friday. Tightening control of the media in advance of the national legislative session has become an annual ritual, in an effort to avoid the embarrassment of dissenting viewpoints." an Asia Times Online article states

Apparently the Internet restrictions are a part of a new series of regulations designed to limit the ability of individuals to criticize government officials via Internet news discussion websites. The rules stipulate that websites are now prohibited from running news forums about any subject that has not already been covered by mainstream state-run media such as the Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily.

It has always appeared as an anomaly to me that forum type websites had not drawn the same level of attention from the internet censors as had static type websites given the formers ability to react very quickly to disseminate and discuss breaking news or to go from a fairly benign outlook to one more rabid.

All my websites are banned in China apart from my forums Turkic Nations Society despite the fact that in my view this medium is far more critical of Chinese policy then my websites (There goes that one now !)

Forum Discussion type websites are very popular among the Chinese especially the foreign ones in English and I must say I they treat the medium very respectfully as it concerns criticising China.

According to the Asia Times Online article the "big three" Chinese web portals, Sina, Sohu and Netease, rely on news discussions groups to boost their web traffic

As a result of these new directives, many news groups have closed since late February and the filtering of online messages has been stepped up. Some discussion groups with political or social issues have even, apparently, been closed or redirected to entertainment forums.

It is believed that the latest round of crackdowns resulted from massive online criticism of a lenient sentence given to a well connected woman who killed several villagers in a road accident.

Anyway it will be interesting to see what is in store for what the Chinese government calls it's 79 million "Netizens"