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Internet censorship tightens in China ahead of Olympics

July 27, 2008

Interfax China
July 26, 2008

Shanghai, July 25 -- China will tighten its control over the Internet
as the Olympic Games approach by ordering Chinese Web sites to censor
certain content, Interfax sources with several online community and
blogging platforms said this week.

"We received notices from the Public Security Bureau and the
Propaganda Department this week, asking us to closely watch for
'unhealthy' information. We have added many key words into our
supervision system to watch for such information," said a source who
works for an online community platform under a state-owned newspaper.

The Chinese government previously promised that it would give greater
freedom to its media in the run-up to the Olympics. Though it has
unblocked many foreign Web sites, especially in Beijing,
Chinese-language sites have come under greater scrutiny.

"In the past, we generally watched for posts that contain Party
leaders' names, pornography or violent content. Starting this week,
more words have become sensitive," the source said.

The source said that some posts containing sensitive key words will
be deleted. The key words include Olympic-related themes, names of
Chinese nationalities or ethnic groups and comments about terrorism.

When contacted by Interfax, several other sources working for online
communities and blogs in Beijing and Shanghai confirmed that Internet
censorship has tightened due to the Olympic Games.

"This month through to late August is a sensitive and busy period for
us," a source working for a privately-owned online community said.
"Several departments will work to supervise sensitive information,
including community service operators, public security bureaus,
propaganda departments and telecom network operators that manage servers."

"If we lose control of the sensitive information, our server will be
shut down by telecom network operators," they said.

Earlier this month, some online communities, including, and, posted announcements
saying that any "unhealthy" comments that could harm the Olympics
will be blocked, and offending posters' IP addresses will be given to
the Public Security Bureau., a Guangzhou-based online community, went so far as to
announce on July 3 that it will forbid users from discussing any
political news during the Olympics. A section of the forum called
"News from around China" will be closed from July 3 until the end of
the Olympics., a popular blog site, announced on July 18 that it
was temporarily shut down because bloggers posted sensitive articles
in their blogs. "We hope bloggers will avoid sensitive topics so as
to protect Sohoxiaobao, especially during the Olympics," the company
said in an announcement.
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