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China new online censorship campaign argeting political and human rights

Posted by Author on January 13, 2009

Reporters Without Borders, 13 January 2009 –

Reporters Without Borders regards the campaign against Internet porn that China launched on 5 January as just a pretext for reinforcing online censorship. More than 90 websites have so far been blocked, but some of them have no pornographic content. Foreign ministry spokesperson Jian Yu nonetheless insisted today that “China takes a positive and open minded attitude toward the management of the Internet.”

“The online Great Wall no longer suffices for the government, which is using porn as a pretext to block websites where people express themselves freely,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Internet users have shown they know how to breach the Great Wall and the government’s persistence proves that it fears the Internet’s appropriation by Chinese citizens.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The Olympic torch is now definitely extinguished and the government’s much-vaunted liberalisation is no more. The campaign against political dissidents is now out in the open.”

The government began its campaign on 5 January by ordering Google and Baidu, China’s two most popular search engines, to “take more effective measures” to combat online porn.

But in practice the campaign is much broader and is also targeting political and human rights content. Amnesty International reported yesterday that its website, which was rendered accessible in China on 1 August, a week before the start of the Beijing Olympic Games, has again been blocked.

Brushing aside the allegation, Jian Yu of the foreign ministry said this kind of accusation was made by people who “are ignorant of China’s situation.”

Bullog (http://www.bullog.cn), a political blog portal, has been inaccessible since 9 January. The portal’s editor, Luo Yonghao (罗永浩), has posted a note that includes the text of the directive issued by the Beijing Bureau of Information calling for its closure.

The directive says: “The http://www.bullog.cn website is publishing a lot of negative information in the public domain. We already asked it to correct this, but the site has still not taken any effective measures. It is now necessary that the hosting organisation block the domain name – HOLD domain name bullog.cn.”

The portal groups some well-known political websites and blogs, some belonging to people such as Ran Yunfei 冉云飞, Baozuitun 饱醉豚, Liao Wendao 梁文道 , Ai Weiwei艾未未, Wang Xiaoshan 王小山, Mo Zhixu 莫之许, Wu Yue San Ren 五岳散人, Shi Nian Kan Chai 十年砍柴 and A Ding 阿丁. all signatories of Charter 8, a manifesto calling for democratic reform inspired by Charter 77, the manifesto issued by Czechoslovak dissidents in 1977.

Bullog was already suspended in October 2007, but Luo Yonghao managed to get it reopened by promising the authorities to be “vigilant about site content.”

The government meanwhile announced today that it wants to reinforce the state media such as CCTV and the news agency Xinhua. Writing in the Communist Party’s ideological newspaper, which sets the political priorities each year, Propaganda Bureau chief Liu Yunshan said: “It has become urgent for China to ensure that our communication capacity matches our international prestige.”

As a result, China is planning to spend 17 billion yuan (2 billion euros) on boosting the influence of these two news media.

Reporters Without Borders

3 Responses to “China new online censorship campaign argeting political and human rights”

  1. David Taylor said

    I cannot believe that you really believe that Gazeley. When were you there last? Have you read about the harvesting of organs of the Falun Gong, the massive arrests of Christians, the torture (yes I said TORTURE) of their own citizens. None of us sanction Guantanimo but that is not even close to the mass murder that the chicom has been about. You are right that the Chinese people are no longer interested in communism but the problem is that the communists are still interested in them and will kill them if they say too loiudly that they don’t want communism. Please tell me in detail how that compares with the USA.

  2. Albert Gazeley said

    This is a very interesting site but very one sided . . It would be great to see a comparative site run in a similar way about the USA – Health, unemployment, homelessness, drugs, crime, foreign policy , Guantanamo etc. Most countries have their problems but China is handling theirs better than most as the future will justify . . Communism is no longer the main interest of the Chinese people as your reports show. .

  3. […] campaign against political dissidents is now very much in the open.” It seems China’s Online Great Wall is still firmly […]

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