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China shuts down politically racy blogs

/ Source: Reuters

Two of China’s most adventurous Web logs closed Wednesday under government orders, the latest in a wave of shutdowns as Chinese censors tighten controls in cyberspace, especially while the national parliament meets.

“Because of unavoidable reasons known to all, this blog is now temporarily closed,” said a message on the site of Beijing-based journalist Wang Xiaofeng. The message from domestic host was probably phrased to show quiet opposition to its closure.

Wang blogs under the name “Dai San Ge Biao” — a play on former leader Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents, or “San Ge Dai Biao,” political slogan. His satirical blog covered everything from the state of Chinese media to a defense of Beijing’s cruder slang.

Wang’s site was visited more than 10 million times, drawn to his shaded ridicule of Communist political posturing in a country where the state-run media sticks to the party line.

“Milk Pig”, the blog of Yuan Lei, an entertainment reporter at Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis News, was also shut down.

Wang and Yuan could not be immediately reached for comment, but another outspoken blogger decried expanding censorship.

“I lament the demise of the blogs of these two political cynics,” said Michael Anti, whose own blog on Chinese politics was shut down under government orders.

The closures coincide with the annual 10-day session of the rubber-stamp parliament, when political controls are tightened as leaders descend on Beijing, but they are part of a pattern of increasing surveillance of China’s cyberspace and media.

Last year, online discussion groups at Chinese universities were turned into internal platforms open only to students. Web site owners must now register within 30 days of their launch.

China also has an army of cyber police who watch for politically sensitive postings. Several Internet writers have been jailed over the sensitive content of e-mails and postings.