Top China Official Urges More 'Forceful' Web Controls

With micro-blogs becoming a powerful way for citizens to express themselves outside of traditional media controls, officials in China are urging more forceful and effective controls over micro-bloggers. The Associated Press reports:

Wang Chen, head of the State Internet Information Office — a government body set up this year to supervise online content — also urged officials to use the web to “guide public opinion and promote positive social values”.

“All regions and departments must… use more forceful and effective measures to strengthen the construction and management of cyber culture,” he was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency late Saturday.

With more than half a billion Chinese now online, authorities in Beijing are concerned about the power of the Internet to influence public opinion in a country that maintains tight controls on its traditional media outlets.

Large-scale strikes have hit China in recent weeks, as workers resentful about low salaries or layoffs face off with employers juggling high costs and slowing exports — news that quickly spreads round the country via the web.

China Media Project translates comments by Wang Chen in People’s Daily
on “Actively Carrying Out Public Opinion Channeling Work”:

As we actively encourage various aspects [on the government side, intellectuals, member of the public etc.] to actively use microblogs to serve society, we must recognize that there are a number of problems involved in the use of microblogs that must be settled urgently. A small number of people use microblogs to fabricate and disseminate rumors, or to transmit obscene or vulgar information, intentionally violating the rights of others and carrying out illegal online public relations [activities]. These must be investigated and handled according to laws and regulations. When they are online, internet users must obey the law and discipline themselves, not transmitting rumors and not believing rumors. Various microblogging sites must strengthen their management of information posting, not providing a transmission channel to illegal or harmful information.. [We] invite the online masses to actively notify [authorities] of obscene or other harmful information, so that together we can create a creditable, healthy and civilized internet environment.

For more on recent concerns over increasing social unrest, see China Leader Warns About Social Unrest Due to Economy via CDT.

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