BEIJING, (AFP) – China has shut down three popular Internet websites as part of a new drive to keep out content seen as anti-government and potentially inciting unrest, human rights groups said.
The closure of the Yannan forum on September 30 and two Inner Mongolian websites on September 26 came days after China issued a revised set of regulations governing potentially sensitive Internet news content.
Social unrest over government corruption, land requisition policies, police brutality and a wide assortment of civil rights issues has increasingly been aired and disseminated on the Internet in China.
The Yannan forum, a discussion website popular among intellectuals and rights activists, carried an announcement dated September 30 that says it has been closed for a "clean-up."
"Yannan site will be undergoing a complete clean-up and rectification. Its date of re-opening will be announced separately," the website said.
The site had previously carried news and discussions on a series of recent high-profile conflicts between villagers and authorities in Taishi village in southern China”s Guangdong province.
It was also known for its in-depth analysis and discussions on social problems in China.
An employee at Yannan confirmed the closure to US-based Radio Free Asia but declined to comment.
Meanwhile, two Inner Mongolian websites were closed for allegedly hosting "separatist" content, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said, criticising the move as part of China”s efforts to gag cultural minorities.
WWW.ehoron.com, a popular on-line discussion forum for ethnic Mongolian students, was apparently closed due to "separatist" messages that criticised a Chinese TV cartoon that showed Genghis Khan as a mouse with a pig”s snout, RSF quoted the forum as saying.
The other site, www.monhgal.com, the website of a law firm, was apparently closed for encouraging its users to complain about the same cartoon, RSF said.
That site was re-opened Monday only after it had promised "not to post any more separatist-type information," according to RSF.
The revised rules issued last month by the government require Internet operators to re-register their news sites and police them for content that can "endanger state security" and "social order."
They target sites that publish fabricated information or pornography and forbid content that "harms national security, reveals state secrets, subverts political power, (and) undermines national unity," state media said.
The regulations also ban posts that "instigate illegal gatherings, formation of associations, marches, demonstrations, or disturb social order."