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 Taishi has been closed. It said the site had been
popular among academics, journalists and rights activists.
Residents of Taishi, 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 Taishi 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, called http://www.ehoron.com,
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, called http://www.monhgal.com. 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.