Security of Internet, phone top priority in Xinjiang

08:41, May 20, 2010      

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Reinforcing the security of telecommunications in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is a priority for officials, because the Internet, phone and mobile services have become major tools for overseas extremists and separatists to instigate terrorist events in the region, a senior official said.

"The July 5 riot last year shows the Internet has become a major platform for the 'three evil forces' - extremists, separatists and terrorists - to spread rumors and plot sabotage activities," Yang Maofa, director of the Xinjiang Communications Administration, said in a written interview on Wednesday.

"So reinforcing the management of Xinjiang's Internet is extremely important for national security."

The written interview was released six days after Internet service in the region fully resumed following a 10-month suspension in the wake of the July 5 riot last year in Urumqi, capital of the region, which left 197 dead and 1,700 injured.

The regional government began to progressively lift the ban on the Internet in December last year by allowing partial access to 31 websites.

Yang said the fast-developed Internet service in the region acts as a "double-edged sword".

On one hand, it serves the economic development of the region, as well as provides people with useful information and entertainment.

But on the other hand, the "three forces" instigated unrest in Xinjiang, such as the July 5 riot, by using telecommunication services, including the Internet, telephone and text messaging, as tools to spread rumors and organize rioters, he said.

"Reinforcing Internet security is a long-term priority for the region's telecommunication administration," Yang said.

By March 2010, Xinjiang had 1.3 million broadband subscribers and 1.4 million mobile Internet users. The region had a population of 21.6 million by the end of 2009.

According to the latest official statistics, 61 percent of the villages in Xinjiang have broadband connections, while the proportion reached 99 percent at the county and township level.

Yang said the Internet is a neutral platform, which should be used by authorities to combat the "three forces" by clarifying information and refuting rumors.

He urged broadband service providers and website administrators to closely monitor the information posted online and to delete "harmful" material as soon as it is spotted.

He also asked netizens in Xinjiang to "be responsible" for their online activities.

Internet cafes around Urumqi were bustling with activity after the government restored the region's Internet access last Friday.

Starting on Sunday, authorities in Urumqi launched a campaign to ensure all Internet cafes in the city follow regulations.

"Internet cafe owners have to make sure all their customers register their IDs before browsing the Internet," said Shao Weijun, captain of one of the inspection units.

So far the inspection unit has visited 257 Internet cafes, among which 17 were fined for allowing under-aged customers and for failing to register customers' IDs.

Source: China Daily(By Cui Jia)


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