Thu, Jan 26, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Beijing shutters paper supplement, Google capitulates

TOEING THE LINE It was a bad day for freedom in China, as a weekly paper supplement was ordered closed and the Internet firm accepted restrictions

AGENCIES , BEIJING

China's propaganda mandarins closed an outspoken supplement of a respected newspaper, as Web search leader Google announced restrictions on a new service for China to avoid confrontation with Beijing.

China's Communist Party publicity department ordered Freezing Point, the weekly supplement of the China Youth Daily, to stop publication, its founding editor Li Datong (李大同) confirmed by telephone yesterday.

Li's blog has also been shut down after he publicized the decision to close the weekly, founded in 1995 with a circulation of 300,000.

He declined further comment.

The Communist Party has tightened its hold over the media, the Internet, non-governmental organizations, lawyers, academics and dissidents to prevent "color revolutions" along the lines of popular protests which toppled dictatorships in post-Soviet Georgia and Ukraine in recent years.

Prison sentence

China also sentenced a journalist to three years in prison on Tuesday for fabricating and spreading alarmist information about an outbreak of dengue fever in Fujian Province in 2004, defense lawyer Mo Shaoping (莫少平) said yesterday.

Li Changqing (李長青) reported for US-based news portal Boxun, which is blocked in China, that more than 100 people were infected with the mosquito-borne disease. Authorities in the provincial capital Fuzhou kept silent for one month before announcing 94 cases.

China was the world's leading jailer of journalists last year for the seventh consecutive year with 32 behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

A China Youth Daily editor who requested anonymity said the weekly supplement was shut for publishing an essay this month by Sun Yat-sen University history professor Yuan Weishi, which criticized Chinese high school textbooks for portraying the 1900 xenophobic Boxer Rebellion as a patriotic movement.

Do no evil?

Meanwhile, US Internet giant Google launched a new service in China yesterday after agreeing to censor Web sites and content banned by the nation's propaganda chiefs, the company said.

Lured by China's vast and growing online market, Google joined other Western Internet giants, including Microsoft and Yahoo, which have bowed to the government's strict policing of the Web.

"In order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on Google.cn, in response to local law, regulation or policy," the company said in a statement announcing its new Google.cn service.

"While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information ... is more inconsistent with our mission," the statement said.

Google.cn will work within limits set by the Chinese government, with Google removing links to Web sites deemed unacceptable to the government, the company said.

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