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Faced with anti-government protests, China may raise its ‘Great Firewall’ even higher


In an attempt to stifle a public uprising, China’s leadership say they may begin to impose stricter controls on the country’s already-censored Internet, reports the Wall Street Journal. The signals of increased online restrictions arrived just one day after Chinese dissidents failed to launch the “Jasmine Revolution” using social networking sites.

Zhou Yongkang — China’s domestic security chief and one of nine members of the Communist Party’s primary decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee — said during a meeting of government leaders that the Chinese Internet censors must “strive to defuse conflicts and disputes while they are still embryonic.”

China’s President Hu Jintao echoed the sentiment in his own speech, calling on the country to “establish a system of public opinion guidance on the Internet.” President Hu also pushed for Chinese workers to engage in “social management,” and reminded private companies of their “social responsibilities,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Chinese Internet censors successfully shut down an anonymous attempt to launch a “Jasmine Revolution” last Sunday after news of the public protests appeared on Twitter copycat Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular microblogging sites. All mentions of the word “jasmine” were deleted from Chinese sites. Sina Weibo users were temporarily prevented from posting updates containing photographs and outside links. Some also reported having trouble sending text messages that referenced the protests. And the usual private networks used to bypass the “Great Firewall” were said to have been cut off.

Calls for increased censorship in China come as government-toppling protests are sweeping across the Middle East, which is surely a source of anxiety for Chinese leaders.

In an attempt to suppress those sympathetic to the anti-government protesters, China’s police force reportedly arrested dozens of political activists in their country who have expressed support for fellow dissidents in the Middle East.

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