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China shuts down Web sites in crackdown

Chinese authorities have shut down an online discussion forum as well as a Web site serving ethnic Mongolians.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Chinese authorities have shut down an online discussion forum that reported on anti-corruption protests in a village in the country's south as well as a Web site serving ethnic Mongolians, overseas monitors said Tuesday.

China routinely shuts down or blocks Web sites that operate outside of government control, but the issue has received heightened international attention in recent weeks with the publication of new rules aimed at stifling online dissent.

Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-based broadcaster, said an online forum that covered protests in the village of Taisho has been closed.  It said the site had been popular among academics, journalists and rights activists.

Residents of Taisho, which is near the manufacturing hub of Guangzhou, had demanded that their village chief be removed from office and investigated for allegations of embezzlement and fraud.

Several villagers were reportedly injured in a clash with police last month when they tried to prevent police from seizing accounting ledgers that they said contained evidence of corruption.

Police and local authorities have refused to comment.

The Taisho protest came amid a series of increasingly bold actions by villagers around China to bring attention to grievances ranging from pollution to corruption and illegal land seizures.

Meanwhile, the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders said China had shut down an online forum for ethnic Mongolian students for allegedly hosting separatist content. Attempts Tuesday to view the page called up a message that said: "You are not authorized to view this page."

The press group said Beijing's controls on ethnic minorities were more restrictive than for the rest of China's population.

It said the government also temporarily closed the Web site of a law firm in China's Inner Mongolia region.  That site could be accessed Tuesday.

China last month issued new rules banning Internet news services from inciting illegal assemblies, marches and demonstrations as well as prohibiting activities on behalf of unauthorized civil groups.