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China 3 August 2006

Authorities close Polls website for third time in three months


Reporters Without Borders reiterated its strong condemnation of the heightened crackdown on the Internet of the past few days after the website Polls (Zhongguo guoqing zixun), which polls its visitors and posts political news briefs, was closed down again today and, for the first time, its Internet Content Provider licence was withdrawn.

“After Century China and the Tibetan poet Woeser’s blogs - sites that were emblematic of a free Internet in China - it is now the turn of Polls to fall victim to this new censorship campaign,” the press freedom organisation said. “We deeply regret that the authorities continue to turn a deaf hear to their citizens’ desire, one we support, to express their views freely online.”

The closure order was issued by the Communications Administration in Beijing and was immediately carried out by the company Xinnet, where Polls was registered. Polls has been closed several times in the past but this is the first time its ICP licence has been withdrawn, so its closure could be definitive this time.

At the time of its closure, Polls was asking visitors to the site to respond to the question: “Do you think the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China should be chosen from among several candidates in differential voting?” Nearly 75 per cent of those polled had answered yes.

In a statement posted on the site 64Tianwang, Polls director Lu Guanghui said that he would not yield to “those who impudently repress freedom of expression” and that he was already trying to get his site reopened.

A wave of website closures has been under way ever since the authorities announced on 29 June that they would “take effective measures to place chat forums, blogs and search engines under control.”

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