Report: China tightens surveillance of Internet forums

The Chinese government has tightened surveillance of Internet chat rooms and discussion forums ahead of the annual National People’s Congress (NPC) meeting, which begins on March 5 in Beijing, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The NPC is China’s highest legislative body. A major focus of this year’s meeting is consideration of a draft antisecession law, which is aimed at curbing Taiwanese moves towards formal independence. China and Taiwan were separated in 1949 at the end of a civil war and Taiwan is viewed by China as a renegade province.

Chat rooms and discussion boards on popular Web sites have been assigned security guards responsible for monitoring the content of messages and postings during the NPC session, Xinhua said. Messages submitted by users will be filtered and censored before appearing online, it said. In an effort to boost control over the Internet during the NPC meeting, officials from China’s Ministry of Public Security met on Monday with executives from local Internet service providers, major Web sites and Internet cafe chains, Xinhua reported.

The Xinhua report did not specify how long these added Internet control measures will remain in place.