A group within the Chinese Communist Party is cracking down hard on the Internet. Since mid-February, more than a thousand people have been arrested in connection with posting information online. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 websites have been issued warnings, and over 200,000 online postings have been deleted. On Friday, China’s two biggest microblog sites had their comment functions disabled.
This may relate to the ongoing battle between two factions within the CCP.
The hardliner faction—led by former CCP leader Jiang Zemin and current security chief Zhou Yongkang—may be looking to exert itself. It comes after the opposing faction controlled by China’s current leaders ousted hardliner Bo Xilai from his position last month.
Some Chinese government websites, which appear to be under hardliner control, claim there’s been an “online crime crackdown,” and cited that over 1,060 people have been arrested.
For example, Guizhou native Yang Zhengwei. He was arbitrarily detained on March 26th for posting sensitive information online.
[Yang Zhengwei, Guizhou]:
“[They told me,] ‘You should be obedient and do whatever we tell you to do. Don’t try to defy us, otherwise we will have “some procedures” waiting for you.’ This is how they intimidated me.”
Mr. Yang was released after March 31st, but does not know whether, or how severely, he will be targeted if Zhou Yongkang’s security forces come after him again.
The crackdown comes as rumors about the CCP power struggle spread online.
Those rumors claimed Zhou Yongkang and his faction are planning a coup against China’s current leaders, as a way to make sure their own hardliner faction stays in control of the Party during this autumn’s leadership transition.
The rumors were never verified.
Nonetheless, the rumors got widespread media coverage in the West, with some major news outlets covering the story.
At present, it’s unknown what will happen with the Internet crackdown.
Last month, censorship of certain highly sensitive words was temporarily lifted, then restored again.
The blocking of comments on China’s two largest microblogs—Sina Weibo and Tencent—is supposed to end to end on April 3.
Strategic Studies Institute(Army)
The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College publishes national security and strategic research and analysis which serves to influence policy debate and bridge the gap between Military and Academia.