Wednesday, October 05, 2005

FREE SPEECH: China closes popular online forum site


Popular online bulletin board shuttered

(Oct. 05, 2005)(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 3 October 2005 CPJ
press release:
In China, a popular Web forum is shuttered

New York, October 3, 2005 - The Committee to Protect Journalists
condemnsthe shuttering of the Beijing-based Yannan bulletin board
system. Radio FreeAsia reported today that the popular Web forum was
closed after providingcoverage and debate on a turbulent recall
campaign in a village in Guangdongprovince. (

Yannan posted a September 30 announcement stating that it would be
closeduntil further notice for "cleanup and rectification." It did
not elaborate.Nine days before, the Web site removed postings on the
political standoff inthe village of Taishi, as well as separate
discussions of murders committedby a Ningxia migrant worker,
according to international news reports.

The action comes less than a week after government agencies announced
newrules restricting Internet news and online content.

"Yannan has provided an important and rare forum for Chinese citizens
toexchange information and debate issues that are crucial to the
country'sfuture," CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. "Coupled
with theannouncement of new Internet regulations, China is sending a
clear anddisturbing message that it intends to crack down on free
expression on theWeb."

Readership had soared as Yannan provided a forum for public debate on
theefforts of Taishi villagers to recall the elected village
committee head,Chen Jinsheng, whom they accused of corruption,
according to ChinaInformation Center, a U.S.-based organization. The
case captivatedacademics, journalists, and legal scholars who saw it
as a test of thegovernment's commitment to its experiments in small-
scale democracy. Therecall efforts pitted villagers against local
officials and police, whoarrested dozens of protesters, many of whom
are elderly, according to newsreports.

The administrators of bulletin board, or BBS, forums in China
areresponsible for their content. In addition, new Internet
regulationsclassify bulletin boards carrying current events as news
organizations andmake them subject to State Council approval and
strict guidelines. New rulesalso ban any online content that could
incite "illegal protests" orgatherings.

Police briefly detained a journalist covering the Taishi standoff for
theHong Kong-based South China Morning Post on August 31, the

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that
works tosafeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information,

For further information, contact Asia Program Coordinator Abi Wright
(x140)or Research Associate Kristin Jones at CPJ, 330 Seventh Ave.,
New York, NY10001, U.S.A., tel: +1 212 465 1004, fax: +1 212 465
9568,,, Internet:

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of
CPJ.In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please
credit CPJ. (

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