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CNN Today

China Tries to Keep Internet Revolution From Becoming Threat to Power

Aired January 27, 2000 - 1:17 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: It seems like everyone is getting in on the cyber action of the Internet. The Worldwide Web is even reaching into countries such as China.

But as CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon tells us, the communist government is trying to put the brakes on some Web activity.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cyber- revolution has come to China: Now the Chinese government is trying to keep that revolution from becoming a threat to its power.

New regulations ban the publication of state secrets on the Internet; chat rooms, news groups and bulletin boards need government approval to operate. All Web site information must pass a security check and violators will be punished.

These new controls are similar to those already imposed on China's print and broadcast media.

ZHU BANGZAO, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): Recently, we have seen the rapid development of the Internet in China, and the measures we have taken in this regard are very positive. I think that any country would adopt necessary policies in terms of protecting state security.

MACKINNON: Authorities here first awakened to the power of the Internet after the now-banned Falun Gong meditation group used e-mail and Web sites to help organize a massive protest outside the government leadership compound last spring. Lately, Chinese Internet chat rooms have been full of gossip about Beijing's communist party chief, whose wife is said to be under investigation for corruption in Southern China. Authorities publicly deny such reports.

JIM MCGREGOR, DOW JONES CHINA: It's a new thing. It's got the security people scared. It's got the propaganda people scared. So every ministry is trying to regulate their little piece of it right now, and it's complete chaos.

MACKINNON: Efforts to control information on the Web won't stop here. Sources tell CNN authorities plan to set up an official government body to regulate and monitor all Internet content in China. But efforts to block information coming in from the outside have been only partly successful. Those who want to read Web sites like this one on human rights can always find a way.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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