China shuts down thousands of websites for breaking the law | News | DW | 24.12.2017
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China shuts down thousands of websites for breaking the law

The state's clampdown has served as a "powerful deterrent," said a senior official. But human rights groups have warned that the measures amount to repression of dissent.

Chinese authorities shut down more than 13,000 websites for breaking laws and regulations governing the country's internet network since 2015, reported China's state-run news agency Xinhua.

An additional 2,220 website operations had been summoned for discussions with the official Cyberspace Administration of China, said Wang Shengjun, who serves as deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

Read more: Germany and China to discuss law in the digital age

"These moves have a powerful deterrent effect," said Wang said in comments carried by Xinhua.

While the government says its rules are aimed at ensuring national security and stability, human rights organizations have warned that the country's tough laws governing the internet amount to repressive measures aimed at quashing dissent.

'Punished for sharing'

In the Washington-based Freedom House's 2017 report on internet freedom, China was dubbed the "worst abuser of internet freedom" for the third consecutive year.

"New regulations increased pressure on companies to verify users' identities and restrict banned content and services," Freedom House said in its report.

Read more: Hello, Big Brother: How China controls its citizens through social media

"Meanwhile, users themselves were punished for sharing sensitive news and commentary, with prison terms ranging from five days to 11 years."

While China is home to more than 731 million internet users, dozens of foreign websites and online services, including Facebook and Google, have been banned in the country.

'Common future'?

Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged tech industry executives to "respect cyberspace sovereignty" during a three-day conference on the internet in China.

However, Xi noted that as the globe becomes increasingly interconnected with growing access to the internet, China will be a firm partner in establishing a "common future" online.

"Building a community of common future in cyberspace has increasingly become the widespread common understanding of international society," said Xi. "China's door to the world will never close, but will only open wider."

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