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China: Controls on the Internet
Extracted from Statement by Mike Jendrzejczyk to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, May 15, 2001
Over the past year, new regulations and controls have been imposed on use of the Internet, including censorship of foreign news sites, the creation of special Internet police, and actions to shut down Internet sites posting information on corruption or articles critical of government. Internet cafes are required to register and inform the police about their customers. The Ministry of State Security has installed tracking devices on Internet service providers to monitor individual email accounts. And bulletin boards critical of the government have been shut down.

Related Material
China's Willing Censors
Editorial, Published April 20, 2001 in The Washington Post

China: Intervention Urged in Internet Case
Press Release, February 9, 2001

China: Foreign Companies Should Protest Internet Detention
Press Release, June 26, 2000

On June 3, 2000 a computer engineer named Huang Qi, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, was detained for setting up China's first domestic human rights web site. It began as an electronic bulletin board to help trace missing persons, then last year was used to post messages on the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Huang Qi was officially charged with subversion. When he was first detained, Human Rights Watch asked U.S. companies involved with the Internet in China to intervene on his behalf, to urge the government not to put him on trial. This was at the height of the debate over Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for China, when some U.S. business groups claimed they were "sowing the seeds of democracy" by their presence in China.

But to our knowledge, no company was willing to intervene, even privately, with Chinese officials. We also asked the World Bank to intervene, since the Bank says it is interested in promoting more openness in China through free exchange of information via the Internet. When Huang Qi went on trial in February, the American consulate in Chengdu and the European Union tried to send diplomatic observers to the trial, but they were turned away. The trial was suddenly adjourned when Huang Qi was taken ill. It has yet to resume.

In mid-March, Yang Zili, another young computer specialist, was detained in Beijing by state security officials; his present whereabouts and legal status are unknown. While a student, he had set up a discussion group, and he also ran a website for exchange of ideas among intellectuals which was shut down after his arrest. Mr. Yang was known for his ability to run rings around firewalls and other government attempts to censor the Internet.