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Friday, 29 December, 2000, 15:28 GMT
China moves to control internet
graphic showing computer and e-mail
This is China's latest move to control the internet
China has passed a law on internet crime, which provides for a crack down on political dissent, according to state media reports on Friday.

Any "subversive" activity on the internet is now a crime
Under the new law, passed on Thursday by the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, subversive activities over the internet are a crime.

"Using the internet to... incite the overthrow of state power, topple the socialist system or... destroy national unity" constituted as crimes, the People's Daily newspaper reported.

Other activities on the internet deemed as crimes are:

  • breaking into networks concerned with national affairs, defence and advanced technology
  • creating and disseminating computer viruses
  • promoting Taiwan's independence
  • organising "cults"
  • establishing pornographic websites and providing links to such websites
  • spreading rumours to manipulate stock prices
  • tampering with personal e-mails

Several articles of the resolution are similar to existing laws used to imprison dissidents, ethnic separatists and members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.

Websites gagged

Net dissident Lin Hai
Net dissident Lin Hai was the first to be jailed
The legislation was seen as the latest attempt by the authorities to control content and use of the internet, which has seen explosive growth - the number of users doubled in the first eight months of this year to 16.9 million.

Official task forces have shut down some websites deemed "subversive" and have previously tried to block access to foreign websites deemed undesirable - including the BBC, Yahoo! and CNN.

Websites publishing news currently have to seek approval from a state information office.

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News websites must be approved by the state
Last month, China moved to gag dissent in internet chatrooms, where users have been increasingly bold in their criticism of government policy.

It launched regulations that made websites responsible for ensuring that users do not post messages deemed "illegal" - that is, anything against the constitution or that "harms China's honour and interests".

China has also detained several people for activities over the internet.

China's Ministry of Public Security said 1,000 internet crimes were reported in the first six months of this year, the same number as throughout the whole of 1999.

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See also:

07 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
China targets 'enemies' on net
02 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
China tightens internet controls
09 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
China to battle internet 'enemies'
02 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
China cracks down on internet cafes
20 Jan 99 | Asia-Pacific
Prison for China Net dissident
04 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
Dissent on the Internet
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