China mulls crackdown on online media

Chinese officials periodically shut down hundreds of websites accusing them of spreading obscene material.

Beijing: With the popular microblogging
posing a major challenge to the tightly-controlled Chinese
media, the country`s internet watchdog has asked authorities
to take "more forceful and effective measures" to manage over
200 million-strong microbloggers.

The government should "strengthen the construction and
management of online culture" and work to foster a "healthy
and positive" online environment, Wang Chen, head of China`s
State Internet Information Office, told a two-day national
meeting at Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province.

Officials from provincial-level publicity departments,
information offices, telecommunications regulators as well as
public security organs attended the meeting.

Wang told the participants to use "more forceful and
effective measures" to build and manage cyber culture and
propel the development of cyber culture in a "healthy and
orderly" way, state-run Xinhua quoted him as saying.

Wang, also deputy head of the Publicity Department of
the ruling Communist Party of China Central Committee, asked
local governments to place the construction and development of
the Internet onto a more prominent position while pursuing
economic and social development.

He urged the officials to use the 460 million subscriber
strong Internet to guide public opinions and promote positive
social values.

In addition, Wang vowed to further crack down on
pornographic and obscene contents as well as vulgar
information on the Internet.

Chinese officials periodically shut down hundreds of
websites accusing them of spreading obscene material.

Wang`s remarks came after his earlier admission in late
September that social networking sites had brought both
conveniences and challenges for social management.

Social networking sites, generally referring to
microblogs and Facebook-like services in China, have become
major platforms for social associations and
information-sharing in China.

Sina Weibo, the most popular microblog service in terms
of registered users, now has more than 200 million users.
With more than half a billion Internet users, China is
home to the world`s largest number of registered Web users.

The rising popularity of microblogging has allowed
segments of the population to voice their opinions in a way
that have never been seen before in China.

Such is the popularity of the microblog networks, most of
the foreign missions in Beijing including the Indian Embassy
have opened accounts in Weibo network which crossed over 3000
hits, according Indian officials.

The growing social media is already putting pressure on
the country`s government controlled print, television as well
as online media exposing a number of scandals.


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