China tightens grip, orders more Internet control

Beijing (China) – Following the recent videos allegedly depicting the beating of Tibetan monks, China’s government today has issued a set of newer, tougher rules on Internet etiquette. These severely limit the type of content which can be posted online against certain forms of sexual, dissenting or “harmful” political and religious views. China considers the tighter controls necessary for national stability.

Two weeks ago, China blocked all access to YouTube when it was discovered that videos depicting an alleged beating of exiled Tibetan monks (and here) was being uploaded and viewed. China did not publicly announce the blockage, and Google discovered it on their own when they observed a sharp drop in content viewing following the blockage.

The country has issued the new rules to keep dissenting or alternate political views from being spread online, as well as certain types of sexual content. The rules also ban religious videos that “advocate evil cults and superstitions,” a phrase which in the past often relates to the Falun Gong spiritual sect that the government claims is a threat to its authority. In addition, the posting of movies or television shows without government permission, including even foreign content, is banned.

According to AFP, the Chinese government only grants twenty foreign films to be viewed in China each year, and that specific “objectionable content” be deleted before being approved for viewing. One example was a scene in Mission Impossible III where residents were hanging dirty laundry from balconies in Shanghai, which had to be deleted before the movie could be viewed.

Citizens in China are often only able to see alternate political or religious views expressed online via videos and web pages. The Chinese government has an active body which constantly scans websites looking for materials it deems politically objectionable. When found, the sites are blocked and often times the site’s owners are arrested.

This long-established practice by the Chinese government has led to the phrase “The Great Firewall of China” in reference to its great wall, one of the only manmade objects visible from space.

See the original AFP article republished on Yahoo News.