Chinese authorities have closed down 16 websites, penalised two of the country’s biggest microblog sites and detained 6 persons for spreading rumours of a coup attempt in the capital after of the sacking an influential Communist Party leader.
Authorities have closed 16 websites and detained six people responsible for “fabricating or disseminating online rumours,” China’s State Internet Information Office ( SIIO) and Beijing police said.
They said that those websites were closed for spreading rumours last week of “military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing,” which were fabricated by some lawless people recently.
Beijing police also detained six people for allegedly fabricating and spreading the above-mentioned rumours, particularly through microblogging posts, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security said.
The rumours have caused “a very bad influence on public” and the websites were closed as per laws for failing to stop the spread of rumours, an official spokesman told state-run Xinhua news agency.
Also two major Chinese microblogging sites, weibo.com and t.qq.com, which together have about 300 million micropbloggers have suspended comment functions after they were punished for allowing rumours to spread, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.
The t.qq.com, run by Tencent and Weibo.Com put up an online announcement that they have decided to suspend comment function from March 31 to April 3 to clean up rumours and other “illegal information” spread through microbloggings.
China’s internet was rife with rumours of an alleged coup attempt last week after the shock dismissal Communist Party politburo member and Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai earlier in the month. Cyberspace discussions on Bo’s fate have been censored.
The rumours fuelled by pictures of battle tanks rolling down in Beijing with questions whether there was a coup were widely picked up by the western media.
Some write ups in the micro-blogs even said shots were fired near the Communist Party’s leadership compound.
A BBC report said “On closer inspection though, some of the pictures seemed to be old ones from rehearsals for military parades, others did not even seem to be of Beijing, as they claimed, but different Chinese cities”.