China shuts down two Web sites in widening Internet crackdown, overseas monitors say

Tuesday, October 4th 2005, 11:07 am
By: News On 6

BEIJING (AP) _ In a widening Internet crackdown, Chinese authorities have shut down an online discussion forum that reported on anti-corruption protests in a southern village and a Web site serving ethnic Mongolians, overseas monitors said Tuesday.

China routinely shuts down or blocks Web sites that operate outside of government control, but the issue has received heightened international attention in recent weeks with the publication of new rules aimed at stifling online dissent.

Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-based broadcaster, said an online forum that covered protests in the village of Taishi has been closed. The site had been popular among academics, journalists and rights activists, the broadcaster said.

Residents of Taishi, which is near the manufacturing hub of Guangzhou, had demanded that their village chief be removed from office and investigated for allegations of embezzlement and fraud.

Several villagers were reportedly injured in a clash with police last month as they tried to prevent police from seizing accounting ledgers that they said contained evidence of corruption.

Police and local authorities have refused comment.

The Taishi protest came amid a series of increasingly bold actions in China's impoverished countryside to bring attention to grievances from industrial pollution to corruption and illegal land seizures.

The group Reporters Without Borders said China also had shut down an online forum for ethnic Mongolian students, called, for allegedly hosting separatist content. Attempts to view the page Tuesday called up a message that said: ``You are not authorized to view this page.''

The Paris-based press group said Beijing's controls on ethnic minorities were more restrictive than for the rest of China's population.

The government also temporarily closed the Web site of a law firm in China's Inner Mongolia region, called, the press group said. That site could be accessed Tuesday.

China last month issued rules banning Internet news services from inciting illegal assemblies, marches and demonstrations and prohibiting activities on behalf of unauthorized civil groups.