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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 17:53 GMT
China shuts down outspoken blog
By Sebastian Usher
BBC's world media correspondent

Internet cafe in Beijing. File photo
There are more than 100 million internet users in China
One of China's most outspoken and widely read blogs has been closed down by the authorities.

Massage Milk has recently featured extensively in international coverage of China's vibrant blogger scene and its conflict with the government.

Another two outspoken blogs have also been suspended.

The closures coincide with the annual session of the Chinese parliament, when media control is tightened even further, particularly on the internet.

'Temporarily closed'

Massage Milk may sound like the kind of product hawked on unsolicited emails, but it has attracted a lot of attention both inside and outside China for its sardonic take on the country's heavily censored state media.

The site belongs to a journalist based in Beijing, Wang Xiaofeng.

His irreverence about all aspects of daily life in the Chinese capital has won him considerable popularity.

It has also earned him a prestigious international bloggers' award.

The site formed the centrepiece of an article on blogging in China in last month's edition of the US current affairs magazine, Newsweek.

Now, Mr Wang's high profile seems to have attracted the disapproval of the Chinese government, which administers the most sophisticated system of internet censorship and control anywhere in the world.

A note on his site reads simply but pointedly: "Because of unavoidable reasons, this blog is now temporarily closed."

The authorities exert even tighter control than usual on how Chinese citizens express themselves during the parliament's session, particularly on the blogs that many of the country's more than 100 million internet users have set up.

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