Beijing has unveiled a range of tighter Internet controls to monitor who is using the web.
The rules legalise the deletion of posts or pages which are deemed to contain “illegal” information and require service providers to hand over such data to the authorities.
Internet users will also have to register with their real names when signing up to network providers, a practice which already happens.
But blogger Zhu Ruifeng says this is tougher step: “Since the Internet came into China, the Chinese government has been repeatedly imposing restrictive measures, such as shielding, blocking and banning. It has even spent billions of dollars to build a firewall against overseas sites. They just don’t want to see any freedom of speech which is provided by the constitution because it will hurt their vested interest.”
Online chatter in China often provides scathing criticism of the authorities and a rare opportunity for debate.
The restrictions follow a series of corruption scandals amongst lower-level officials exposed by Internet users, something the government has said it is trying to encourage.