BEIJING, June 20 China began a campaign on
Friday to purge the Internet of content it says promotes terror
and violence, enlisting the aid of major websites, state media
said, as the country moves to damp violence in its restive far
The Xinjiang region is the traditional home of Muslim
Uighurs who speak a Turkic language, and China has blamed a
series of attacks on Islamist separatists it says seek to
establish an independent state there called East Turkestan.
A suicide bombing last month killed 39 people at a market in
Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi. In March, 29 people were stabbed
to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.
"Terror video and audio products have become a major
instigator of the high incidence of terrorist activities at
present," the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting a
statement from the State Internet Information Office.
The government aims to stop circulation in China of
terror-related materials made overseas, remove such information
from the Internet, punish websites that break the rules and urge
Internet firms to "uphold their responsibilities", Xinhua said.
China already exercises tight control over the Internet,
with the cooperation of the country's Internet companies.
Beijing says most suspects in recent cases had been spurred
by terror video and audio products to carry out attacks.
"Many of them had learned how to make explosives through
online tutorials," Xinhua said. "They exchanged experiences of
making explosives and propagating jihad through chat tools, text
messages and illegal preaching sites."
China faces a serious challenge cleaning the web of such
content, as the volume of materials released by the East
Turkestan Islamic Movement -- the main terror group in China's
eyes -- has increased dramatically, the report added.
"These materials, which propagate jihad, terrorism and
religious extremism, have been spread incessantly in China," the
statement said. "They have had a strong instigation effect and
are extremely harmful."
It is unclear how broadly the government will define
Websites aimed at ethnic Uighurs, Tibetans and Mongols have
been banned in the past following government accusations that
they spread separatism, although rights groups say they simply
provide a forum for discussion about issues like discrimination.
Xinhua said more than 30 Internet companies, including Sina
Corp, top search engine Baidu Inc, Tencent
Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding's
eBay-like Taobao had signed "a letter of commitment" to clear
out terror-related material.
"Fighting against online terror audio and video materials is
our most important political task now," Xinhua quoted Zhao Tian,
deputy editor-in-chief of Sina.com, as saying.
Those providing tip-offs to terror-related information
online will get rewards of up to 100,000 yuan ($16,100), the
Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the
government's own repressive policies in Xinjiang have provoked
unrest, something Beijing denies, and have expressed doubt there
exists a coherent extremist movement as China claims.
($1=6.2090 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)