China cracks down on rumours, removes 210,000 online posts (Lead)

April 12th, 2012 - 5:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, April 12 (IANS) China has removed over 210,000 online posts since mid-March and shut down 42 websites in its crackdown on Internet-based rumour-mongering, a senior official said Thursday.

Liu Zhengrong, a senior official with the State Internet Information Office (SIIO), revealed the figures in Beijing, saying the move, jointly taken by the Internet administration, telecoms and police agencies, has led to an improved online environment, reported Xinhua.

The move comes after Bo Xilai, a rising star of the Chinese political scene, was demoted from the country’s powerful politburo after his wife was named by police as a prime suspect in the murder of a British businessman.

Bogu Kailai, whose husband, Bo Xilai, 62, had been tipped as a future leader of China, is being investigated over the death of Neil Heywood. He died in November.

Police initially said Heywood, 41, had died from excessive drinking, but suspicions of foul play led to the British government repeatedly asking for a new investigation.

Bo was dismissed as party chief in the south-west city of Chongqing last month after his police chief spent over an hour in the city’s US consulate in an apparent asylum bid.

Liu said Internet-based rumour creation and dissemination is illegal under China’s laws.

“Actions of creating and spreading rumours via the Internet disrupt public order and undermine social stability, and will never be tolerated,” Liu maintained, saying such behaviour will be handled seriously and rumour-mongers held accountable in accordance with the law.

To stop rumours from being disseminated via microblogging service websites, Liu said both government agencies and the Internet service providers should play an appropriate role, while Internet users themselves should remain vigilant against rumours and report them to the authorities in a timely manner.

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