China shut down more than 60,000 pornographic websites this year, netting almost 5,000 suspects in the process, a government spokesman said on Thursday, vowing no let-up in its campaign against material deemed obscene.
Beijing has run a highly publicised drive against what officials said was smutty and lewd content overwhelming the country’s Internet and cell phones, threatening the emotional health of children.
Critics accuse the Chinese government of deepening the crackdown, launched last December, and tightening overall censorship, and say that the push has netted many sites with politically sensitive or even simply user-generated content.
But Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information Office, or cabinet spokesman’s office, said the offensive was vital.
“Our campaign has been a great success and this has not been achieved easily,” he told a news conference. “We have made the Internet environment much cleaner than before as there was a lot of pornography available.
“We have changed this situation and this has been well received by many sectors across society,” Wang said. “But our campaign has not come to a stop. This will be a long battle.”
“As long as there are people with bad motives who want to spread violent or pornographic information, we will have to continue our campaign to resolutely crack down on the spread of such information.”
Of the 4,965 suspects, 1,332 people received “criminal punishment” with 58 jailed for five years or more, Wang said.
The government checked the content of 1.79 million websites and deleted 350 million pornographic and lewd articles, pictures and pieces of video footage, he said.
With an estimated 450 million Internet users as of the end of November, China has a bigger online population than any other country. Yet the government worries the Internet could become a dangerous conduit for threatening images and ideas.