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Chinese Regime Makes Known Plans to Crack Down on Internet

By Ariel Tian & Irene Luo
Epoch Times Staff
Created: December 23, 2012 Last Updated: December 27, 2012
Related articles: China » Regime
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A picture created by Chinese netizens, showing officials Lei Zhengfu and Yang Dacai, whose scandals were recently exposed online. They are pointing at the article headline “The Internet is not outside of the law” which has been widely criticized on the Internet. (Weibo.com)

A picture created by Chinese netizens, showing officials Lei Zhengfu and Yang Dacai, whose scandals were recently exposed online. They are pointing at the article headline “The Internet is not outside of the law” which has been widely criticized on the Internet. (Weibo.com)

State-run media have publicized the Chinese Communist Party’s intent to punish free speech on the Internet. 

On Dec. 20, Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, and Guangming Daily, all major mouthpieces of the regime, ran front-page editorials about the Internet being “subject to law,” and repeated this theme on Dec. 21. Web portals that are customarily pressed into the service of the Party’s propaganda goals followed suit, with Sina, Sohu, and Netease running editorials about “strengthening the restrictions by law on the Internet.”

The articles are typical signs of a policy shift, using news stories to indicate an oncoming campaign. Weibo (China’s version of Twitter), and other Internet platforms were host to frank and lively discussions in response to the news. 

At least two high-ranking officials were recently embarrassed by scandals publicized on the Internet. Lei Zhengfu and Yang Dacai have good reason to wish for such restrictions. A cartoon posted by reporter Liu Xiangdong at The Economic Observer suggests a motive for the proposed crackdown, with Lei and Yang pointing to the headline: “The Internet is not outside the law.”

“I believe this is a sign of suppression,” said mainland dissident Shen Liangqing in an interview with Sound of Hope Radio Network.

Influential economist Han Zhiguo decried the arrival of more repression so soon after the recent 18th Party Congress leadership change, when many Chinese people had hopes for political reform. He wrote on Weibo to his 4 million followers: “The honeymoon period has not passed, and Weibo is facing danger again. During this time when society has hope, this kind of habitual thinking [of the authorities] is unbelievable.” 

This same sense of disappointment was echoed by another popular author. Xu Xiaonian, professor at China Europe International Business School, commented to his more than 5 million followers, “Who is going to believe it even if other reform policies are promoted in the future?” 

Some people were scornful of more Internet censorship. “From my personal experiences, I think People’s Daily should be called the source of evil, Guangming Daily should be called the source of sin, and CCTV, that is the source of all evil,” wrote netizen “Chen VI 1968.” 

Another Internet user expressed defiance: “Last year they implemented a real name registration system on Weibo, and this was very intimidating for us. However, due to everyone’s courage, the new system failed. Now, they are saying the Internet is not outside of the law, and are attempting to use a different method to intimidate us. Yugong would like to say a few words: the Internet is not outside of the law; but, China is also not the private land of authoritarian dictatorship, so I ask for you all to please get out of China, the further away the better.”

This person goes by the handle “Yugong moving away the Party,” referring to a Chinese story in which an old man keeps trying to move a mountain from in front of his house. His determination touches the gods, and they move the mountain for him.

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  • peter herford

    This report is troubling on two levels. 1. The potential for greater restrictions if they are to be imposed. 2. The lack of evidence beyond editorials that appear to be threatening. The articles referred were “typically signs of a shift” according to the writers. Vigilance yes, but thus far the only evidence are editorials and implied threats. Threats have often been used by Chinese authorities, but they do not necessarily presage action. Are the editorials a warning? Are the editorials a preview of things to come? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. What is never clear is the motivation for the editorial approach. What is “typical” is that when Chinese authorities are serious about a shift in policy they do not editorialize, they act without explanation or warning. Just as much as politicians outside China “run it up the flagpole” by making statements or writing op ed pieces to test public reaction, Chinese politicians have learned to test public sentiment using their media.


   

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