The Century China website and its chat forum, one of the most influential websites for Chinese intellectuals and dissidents, were shut down by Chinese authorities on July 25. As a result, the authorities have met with continuous protest from the website's editors as well as Web surfers.
Since its launch on July 19, 2000, Century China had held to its tenet of establishing a public website for open communication and rational discussion. The website was founded by the Beijing Zhongqing Future Community Culture Development Research Institute, and edited by the Institute of Chinese Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It was a comprehensive discussion site for both domestic and international issues, open to various topics including social, economic, cultural issues, as well as science and technology.
The Century China website's administrators posted a notice on July 25 to announce the closedown saying, “Upon notification from the administering authority, the Century China website (www.cc.org.cn) and its chat forum (www.ccforum.org.cn) will be closed from today.”
At approximately 6 pm that night, the editor of Century China released a “final day” statement, “Today is the last day for the Century China website and its forum. At around midnight tonight, they will be taken permanently offline.”
At 9:45 pm, the editor released a goodbye message to the avid readers and forum surfers, saying “We still don't know the exact time the website will be shut down, because nobody is willing to carry out a 'voluntary closure.' It might be in the next minute, or it might be tomorrow morning…… But it won't be very long now.”
“In these six years, although we've been through countless trials and hardships unbeknown to outsiders, in learning to compromise in our persistence and to persist in our compromising, we've passed through many moments of crisis. But today, we cannot escape our doomed fate.”
“ Century China is about to end. But Century China 's articles, readers and net friends will nonetheless spread her story and history, spread Century China 's struggle and high-headed spirits. Century China is dead, but we must live, in the hopes, and let's keep our fingers crossed, of a beautiful and civilized future!”
Mr. Pu Zhiqiang, a famous Beijing attorney, posted an article the same evening titled “With Deep Anger and Sadness: Century China Forum is Shut Down Today”. In the article he said, “Although I cannot say for sure whether the authorities are more serious with supporting the Internet or suppressing it, it is not hard to see that the authorities now prefer blockade and suppression to any other means of Internet-based information management. The existence of these discussion forums and their persistence in freedom of speech must have annoyed the authorities. That's why the authorities unwisely decided to shut down websites like Century China .
“But will these blockage and suppression really work? If I were a hacker, facing China's Internet domains behind invisible but gigantic 'firewall,' I would surely die to find ways to break it. Except the 'great and honorable' Chinese Communist Party, who else would try being enemies to all the hackers in the entire world?”
One online posting said, “This is the final craze of a cruel ruler, and the darkness before dawn.”
Another post said, “Many discussion sites and public forums have been closed by the authorities. Even universities bulletin boards require registration with authentication. The Chinese authorities are trying to 'instruct and supervise' the speech of the whole society. We Chinese people have been deprived of freedom of speech, and of the right to be a free person. Maybe the 'harmonious society' that the communist regime is trying to build would require an unanimous voice, but I doubt if this voice will be – as the Party expects – extols, or just moans and curses.”