China Seeks To Tighten Internet Controls

Chinese Internet surfers work at their computer stations in an Internet cafe in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006. Internet companies facing hearings Wednesday before angry U.S. lawmakers say they can't resist China's effort to censor the Web on their own. But industry analysts say that even if Washington tried to enforce free-speech standards, it is likely to have little effect. (AP Photo)
President Hu Jintao has ordered Chinese Internet regulators to promote a "healthy online culture" to protect the government's stability, state media said Thursday.

Hu told officials at a meeting Tuesday of the Communist Party's ruling Politburo to "actively and creatively nurture a healthy online culture," the Xinhua News Agency and newspapers reported.

"Whether we can cope with the Internet is a matter that affects the development of socialist culture, the security of information, and the stability of the state," Hu was quoted as saying.

The reports gave no details of what steps the government plans to take.

But Xinhua quoted Hu as saying the government should "use advanced technologies to better guide public opinions" and "promote online products that can represent the grand Chinese culture."

The Chinese government promotes Internet use for education and business but tries, with varying degrees of success, to block its citizens from seeing material it deems subversive or pornographic.

China's online population grew by 23.4 percent last year to 137 million people, about 10 percent of its 1.3 billion population, the China Internet Network Information Center reported earlier this week. The figure puts China on track to surpass the United States in the next two years as the nation with the most Internet users, the government had said.

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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.