China officials call for tighter Internet controls

China officials call for tighter Internet controls

It seems like the Internet situation in China is getting worse as China’s domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang, added his voice to calls for tighter Internet controls, a day after a failed attempt to use social-networking sites to start a “Jasmine Revolution” in China.

Mr. Zhou, one of the nine members of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s top decision-making body, insists that Chinese officials needed to find new ways to defuse social unrest. He made the statement during a meeting of Chinese officials, after the police and Internet censors easily foiled an anonymous online appeal to stage simultaneous anti-government protests in several Chinese cities.

Mr. Zhou boasts of the country’s effective way of combining both new and old methods to prevent social unrest using physical intimidation, media manipulation and a sophisticated Internet censorship system. “Strive to defuse conflicts and disputes while they are still embryonic,” the official said.

Censorship was taken to a new level last Sunday after the anonymous appeal for a “Jasmine Revolution” in China appeared on major Chinese microblogging sites. According to the report from WSJ, all references to the appeal were deleted from Chinese sites, and searches for “Jasmine” and related words were blocked everywhere. Moreover, people were temporarily prevented from posting items with photographs and links to other sites. Even the search function on Sina Weibo, one of the most popular microblogging sites, was disabled.

Furthermore, Chinese police detained dozens of other political activists and citizens alike, according to several human-rights groups.  People also reported having problems sending text messages with references to the planned protests. Additionally, many Internet users reported having problems using the virtual private networks that normally let them bypass the Great Firewall.

After hearing President Hu’s speech calling for tighter Internet controls, Qiao Mu, director of the Center for International Communications Studies at Beijing Foreign Students University is convinced that the Internet situation in China will only get worse.

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