08 January 2009

CN - Cracking down on dissent

Increasingly worried about a sickly economy sowing social unrest, the Chinese government is tightening state control over the media. Its main aim appears to be to smother dissemination of politically sensitive discussions and information on the Internet. On January 5th authorities notified 19 popular domestic and foreign Internet companies - including Sina, Tencent, Baidu and Google - that a failure to expunge pornography from their mainland websites could lead to a shutdown. The more alarming development for Chinese leaders is a document circulating on the Internet called Charter 08, a potent political manifesto signed by hundreds of Chinese intellectuals and even some government officials calling for sweeping democratic reforms in China. The government was not amused, and official reaction has been swift. Authorities have banned further distribution of the document on the Internet.