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Getting around web censorship

The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 18th National Congress – the most important Party meeting in a decade – starts next Thursday.

world Updated: Nov 03, 2012 00:16 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 18th National Congress — that will set in the motion a once-in-a-decade leadership change process — starts next Thursday.

For the first time, the secretive party has to ensure that it controls the vast number of Internet users so that they behave during the Congress.

There 538 million web users in China — the largest in the world; in 2002, there were less than 60 million.

On China’s Twitter-like microblogs, called Weibo, phrases like ‘Party Congress’ have already been banned. Any mention of the Congress on Sina Weibo throws up a blank. Searches on the names of top leaders are also blocked.

But Chinese citizens are finding a way around. The website, Offbeat China, said the word “sparta” is what Internet users are typing in to mean the Congress.

“A search for Sparta yielded more than 3.2 million results on Sina Weibo,” said the website Tea Leaf Nation.

“The 18th Congress, if pronounced in Chinese sounds very similar to the word Sparta,” the Offbeat China website said.

Jailed for trying to set up oppn party
A court in China has sentenced a man to eight years in prison for trying to form an opposition party and for online messages criticising the Communist Party.

The court in Kunming sentenced Cao Haibo, 27, for “subversion of state power”, his lawyer, Ma Xiaopeng, said. Cao had tried to form a party called the China Republican party. GNS