BEIJING Dec 30 China shut down more than
60,000 pornographic websites this year, netting almost 5,000
suspects in the process, a government spokesman said on
Thursday, vowing no let-up in its campaign against material
Beijing has run a highly publicised drive against what
officials said was smutty and lewd content overwhelming the
country's Internet and cell phones, threatening the emotional
health of children.
Critics accuse the Chinese government of deepening the
crackdown, launched last December, and tightening overall
censorship, and say that the push has netted many sites with
politically sensitive or even simply user-generated content.
But Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information
Office, or cabinet spokesman's office, said the offensive was
"Our campaign has been a great success and this has not
been achieved easily," he told a news conference. "We have
made the Internet environment much cleaner than before as
there was a lot of pornography available.
"We have changed this situation and this has been well
received by many sectors across society," Wang said. "But our
campaign has not come to a stop. This will be a long battle."
"As long as there are people with bad motives who want to
spread violent or pornographic information, we will have to
continue our campaign to resolutely crack down on the spread
of such information."
Of the 4,965 suspects, 1,332 people received "criminal
punishment" with 58 jailed for five years or more, Wang said.
The government checked the content of 1.79 million
websites and deleted 350 million pornographic and lewd
articles, pictures and pieces of video footage, he said.
With an estimated 450 million Internet users as of the end
of November, China has a bigger online population than any
other country. Yet the government worries the Internet could
become a dangerous conduit for threatening images and ideas.
China has blocked a number of popular websites and
Internet services, including Google's YouTube, Twitter, Flickr
and Facebook, as well as Chinese content sharing sites.
The government accused them of carrying content harmful to
China's security and in breach of Chinese laws, including
images of protests in sensitive regions such as Tibet.
Wang said he had seen media reports that Facebook's chief
Mark Zuckerberg had visited China recently, but said
Zuckerberg had not met his department, which oversees the
Internet in China.
"We saw reports that he met with some well-known figures
in China's Internet industry. We are also still trying to
learn more about his visit to China," he added.
Google Inc , the world's top Internet search
engine, closed its China-based search service in March, two
months after it said it would stop censoring search results in
response to what it said was a sophisticated cyber attack that
it traced to China and increasing limits on freedom of
The dispute was resolved in July after Google changed the
way it directs users to an unfiltered search engine. The case
prompted a diplomatic row between China and the United States
over web freedom.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Sabrina Mao and Benjamin Kang
Lim; Editing by Robert Birsel)