Saturday, 18 July 2009
The police have amoiist!
China has more internet users than the entire population of the United States, according to new research by the government-sanctioned China Internet Network Information Center.
The study says that at the end of June there were 338m internet users in China, a 13.4% jump since the end of 2008, and well ahead of the official US population, put at 307m by the US Census Bureau.
Rapid economic growth, and allied expansion in internet access in more areas, has fuelled the rapid rise in use of the web around China.
The down side of the web
For hundreds like myself, who have been following the Blogger amoiist on Twitter, we became accustomed to his steady stream of messages. But they ended abruptly with two updates early yesterday morning.
“i have been arrested by Mawei police, SOS” he wrote. Then shortly afterwards: “Pls help me, I grasp the phone during police sleep.”
Followers have quickly passed on his plea to other Twitterers. But since then there has been silence from amoiist.
The escalation of the Chinese government's effort to neutralize critical online opinion comes after a series of large anti-Japanese, anti-pollution and anti-corruption protests, many of which were organized or publicized using instant messaging services, chat rooms, and text messages or Twitter. The size of the Internet police is estimated at more than 30,000. Critical comments appearing on Internet forums, blogs, and major portals such as Sohu and Sina usually are erased within minutes.
An estimated 60 "cyber dissidents" are behind bars in China, it could be more we have know way of knowing. They are often locked-up for no greater crime than expressing views in Internet chat rooms uncomplimentary to the Government.
China opened the country to the internet in 1995, but since President Jiang Zemin complained in 2001 about the volume of "pernicious information" filtering through to the Chinese population, China has embarked on an extensive program of technical and legislative measures designed to restrict access to large parts of the internet.
Amnesty International notes that China “has the largest recorded number of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world.”
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