China Pulls Plug on 1000 'Inappropriate' Web Sites

Dennis Faas's picture

I'd hate to be a web writer, editor, or site owner while living in China. The country recently shut down over a thousand web sites it claimed were illicit and inappropriate, and critics are already speculating that those pages targeted might have displayed more than just nudies.

At first, the site closures seem to be limited to those violating China's laws of "social morality," laws meant to protect the delicate "physical and mental health of youths." Images on sites like and included a number of under-dressed women. However, at the same time official outlet People's Daily posted pictures of Chinese celebrity Zhang Ziyi in a swimsuit, while the Xinhua News Agency began a slideshow displaying the country's hottest babes.

So, it doesn't make a lot of sense. While less popular sites get slammed shut like a cell door, others escape altogether. That ambivalent approach has a number of critics wondering if the lewd conduct excuse is just a front for muffling sites targeting China's communist regime. (Source:

It's been done elsewhere, after all. Iran recently tossed a number of web sites critical of its government into a massive pool of some 100,000 targeted adult web sites. Even other countries in the region are playing the game, with university consortium OpenNet Initiative finding that Vietnam's government blacklists political challengers right alongside those flashing the nudies.

Chinese Internet expert Rebecca Mackinnon wouldn't be surprised if China's recent activity is very similar. "Historically in China...the technology used to censor porn has ended up being used more vigorously to censor political content," she said in a recent interview with Newsweek.

Regardless of who is being included in the cleanup, it doesn't appear the government will be done with its campaign any time soon. "We have made apparent achievements but it's only for this phase," said Liu Zhengrong, deputy director of the Chinese government's Internet Affairs Bureau. "We still have a lot of work to do." (Source:

The site closures follow the Chinese government's insistence that search giant Google must do more to block adult material from reaching its citizens. "Our biggest challenge is that the Internet is still growing," Liu said.

He's right; Chinese citizens now outnumber Americans online.

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