01/25/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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Hu Jintao calls on party to “purify” internet

Without mentioning the word censorship, China’s leader calls on politburo to exert greater control on the net, which must still be allowed too develop freely its economic potential. Chinese internet users reach the 137 million mark.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese President Hu Jintao has called on all Communist Party members to take action and "purify" the internet, event though the medium must be allowed to be free to enhance economic development. Mr Hu, who never directly uttered the word censorship, made his appeal at the ruling party's Politburo. State media reported last night.

During the meeting politburo members looked at the issue of internet use in China, which claimed 137 million registered users at the end of last year.

Hu made it clear that the Party wants to ensure its control over internet users, who are often more interested in salacious pictures, bloodthirsty games and political scandal than Marxist lessons. The party in his view must “strengthen the administration and development of our country's internet culture and raise the level of online guidance,” he said. “We must [. . .] purify the internet environment,” he added.

In 2006, China's internet users grew by 26 million, or 23.4 per cent, year on year, to bring the total to 137 million.

However, the vast majority of them have no access to overseas Chinese websites offering uncensored opinion and news critical of the ruling party and government. But even in heavily monitored China, news of official misdeeds and dissident opinion has been able to travel and filter through.

For this reason, Mr Hu insisted with his officials that they “must” intensify control even as they seek to release the internet's economic potential.

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