Jeremy Goldkorn of Danwei writes in The Guardian about the recent clamping down on Internet sites, including his own:
This year – after a period of relatively relaxed controls – the bodies who censor information and culture have come back with a vengeance. There are several reasons: 2009 has seen a number of “sensitive” anniversaries, including the 4 May student uprisings of 1919, the 1959 Tibetan uprising, and Tiananmen Square in 1989. Although Tibet has been relatively calm this year, the riots in Urumqi in July added greatly to the tense atmosphere in Beijing. Government nervousness about the internet was exacerbated by hype in the western press about Twitter bringing democracy to Iran. Another factor is the financial crisis, which has made mass unrest more likely.
Despite the ongoing and harsh repression of anyone who sets up as a dissident or suggests that the Communist party is illegitimate, there is more anti-establishment chatter on the Chinese internet than ever. China has a new but firmly established culture of citizens using the net to air their grievances with local authorities. This year’s most prominent example was the case of the young female hotel employee Deng Yujiao, where net activism was the decisive factor in saving her from a murder charge, when she was widely believed to have acted in self-defence against an attempted rape. Such cases of online activism have made the government even more wary of the power of the net.