Six people have been reported detained and more than 10 websites closed down as China tightens its iron grip on the nation’s social networking sites, following widely circulating reports in Chinese social media over the weekend of a coup in that authoritarian state.
In a report from Beijing late Sunday, the Associated Press said Beijing police interrogated an unspecified number of Internet users and detained six persons on charges of circulating rumors of a coup in the Mainland.
Sixteen social media websites were reported shut down, plus two other opinion sites patterned after Twitter, both of which reported to have more than 300 million users.
In suspending the 16 micro-blogging websites, the Beijing government issued stern formal notices, warning the social media websites concerned against further circulation of rumors and what it termed illegal, harmful information.
Some websites, allowed to post original comments, castigated the Beijing government moves, saying that it will continue to take note of the reaction of the millions of social media users each time similar authoritarian moves happen.
A blog site with some 1.3 million followers called the Beijing government action a murder of free speech.
The clampdown on social media in the Mainland followed the circulation of rumors surrounding the firing last week of popular leader Bo Xilai, earlier considered a candidate for one of the top posts in China. The Mainland is in a transition period preparatory to the appointment of replacements for the country’s powerful, top-level posts, including president and premier.
Bo Xilai’s removal from his post in the city of Chongqing still needs explanation from Beijing.