In light of a handful of sensitive anniversaries, a pro-democracy letter signed by many prominent intellectuals and a slowing economy, China has shut down 90 websites. From The Guardian:
China extended its internet crackdown today, announcing that it had closed more than 90 websites as part of its campaign to eradicate vulgar and pornographic material. But observers fear that the move signals the government’s determination to control the net amid a darkening economic outlook and a string of politically sensitive anniversaries.
The authorities are thought to be particularly nervous following the spread of Charter 08, a document calling for political reform including multi-party elections and freedom of expression .
A prominent Chinese blog regarded as a haven for liberal thought and one of the liveliest sites for discussion was also banned last week. Bullog was closed on the grounds that it contained too much “harmful” comment on current affairs. Its founder, Luo Yonghao, said at the weekend that he would reopen it overseas if the authorities did not relent. It was briefly banned in 2007.
The article also quotes CDT’s Xiao Qiang:
Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of California at Berkeley, suggested Bullog’s closure reflected the Chinese government’s deep concerns about the growing influence of the internet.
“The sheer number of bloggers and the sheer number who are willing to express themselves politically are growing dramatically,” he added.
“The language is changing from implicit to more and more explicit, communities are swarming and their opinions and influence are getting stronger – even compared with six months ago.”