Since the start of 2015, China has shut down approximately 13,000 websites for either breaking the law or some other rules. According to state news agency Xinhua, the efforts made by the Chinese government for cleaning up cyberspace have the support of a vast majority of the people. The government already had tight control over the internet, but they have strengthened it even further since President Xi Jinping came to power five years back. According to critics of these efforts, this is just a way for them to prevent people from directing criticism at the ruling Communist Party and for restricting freedom of speech.
The Chinese government has said that every country regulates the internet and their rules are simply designed to ensure social stability and national security and prevent the spread of violent content and pornography. The standing committee of China’s parliament is in the middle of an ongoing session and a report on it stated that violence and pornography had been targeted by the authorities in the sweeps conducted on blogs, websites and social media platforms. Xinhua also revealed that apart from closing down 13,000 websites, they had also shut down about 10 million accounts. While details were not provided, there was a good chance that these were social media accounts.
Xinhua said that internet security has an important role to play in China’s long-term stability and peace, the party’s hold on power in the long-term, the personal interests of the people and also the socio-economic development. It added that the government efforts of managing the internet were studied by about 90 percent of the people. About 63.5 percent of them had said that they had noticed a notable reduction in harmful content online in the past few years. The vice president of the standing committee of the parliament, Wang Shengjun said that these moves work as powerful deterrents.
He also revealed that operators of more than 2000 websites had been summoned by the authorities in the same period including the Cyberspace Administration of China. Other than that, Xinhua said that more than 10 million people had their telecom or internet accounts suspended in the last year because they had refused to use their real names for registration purposes. In June, a tough and strict cyber security law was introduced in the country. The legislation had been deemed controversial and has been the subject of ongoing debate for a number of years.
The debate has been rather fierce because a number of foreign business groups believe that the legislation will have an impact on how they operate in the country. China is quite renowned all over the globe for maintaining some really strict censorship. Under this regime, the government has chosen to ban a number of foreign news outlets, social media networks such as Facebook, search engines like Google and other websites such as YouTube. They have also placed restrictions on foreign companies like Apple and they have to adhere to strict laws and policies to continue operating in the country.