04/24/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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Communist Party to ‘purify’ internet

The latest campaign against the net’s ‘immoral’ content is launched. The real goal is to allow only sites that disseminate official political theories. For years China has been tightening its control over the internet in an attempt to stop dissident ideas and writings.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China’s government wants to “purify” internet and allow only websites that favour the dissemination of “socialist principles” and the values of the Communist Party. This was agreed at a meeting yesterday of the politburo, chaired by President Hu Jintao whereby China would build an internet environment that fostered people's morals and promoted a "harmonious society," with information consistent with the "Theory of the Three Represents" and manifesting the latest theories of Marxism.

China Central Television reported the Politburo as saying that "advanced technology should be used to spread advanced culture". It also reported that the “development and administration of internet culture must stick to the direction of socialist advanced culture and adhere to correct propaganda guidance.” Similarly, “internet cultural units must conscientiously take on the responsibility of encouraging development of a system of core socialist values.”

In order to fulfill these goals, Mr Hu launched a campaign to rid the country's sprawling internet of "unhealthy" content.

The “Theory of the Three Represents,” promoted by former president Jiang Zemin's, says the party represents advanced productive forces, advanced culture and the interests of the broad masses.

Yesterday's announcements followed a week-long media campaign highlighting the negative impact of indecent internet content and including daily TV reports showing students and their parents protesting about the harm such content caused.

In April the authorities launched more crackdowns on pornography and salacious content. The latest campaign against porn and "rumour-spreading" was announced earlier this month.

Under the campaign, the Public Security Bureau will establish a "virtual police" and "virtual police stations" to supervise major websites, chat rooms and weblogs before the end of June to step up surveillance of their content and allow quicker action against offending material.

The moves to clean up cyberspace follow a series of measures this year aimed at "purifying" television broadcasts, including demands that stations reserve prime-time slots for "ethically inspiring TV dramas.”

In January, President Hu made a similar call to "purify" websites. The government itself wants to ban obscene or pornographic sites, but in reality its goal is to censor sites that contain information contrary to government policy. Violators are punished with  long jail sentences.

The steps are seen by some as signs the party is trying to tighten its grip on information dissemination before its sensitive 17th congress.

Internet use is constantly growing in China with an estimated 137 million users in 2006 (26 million more over the previous year).

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