Peking shuts down CNN

POPULAR Chinese-language Internet chatrooms have been suspended, the CNN television news channel has been shut down "for maintenance" in Chinese apartment blocks, and editions of some Hong Kong newspapers have been banned from sale in shops and hotels.

Ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, Peking's censors have fallen back to old-style tactics to stop Chinese people hearing what the world has to say about the brutal crackdown of June 1989.

The message that the government wants people to read was plastered yesterday across the front page of the People's Daily, the party's mouthpiece. The June 1989 bloody suppression of the demonstrations was "very timely and very necessary" and had "forcefully protected our nation's independence, dignity, security and stability", it said.

This week China is blaming "anti-China forces" in the US and other Western countries for playing "an inglorious role" in 1989 by "directly masterminding schemes ... to support those making the disturbance". The People's Daily added: "We must be clear-headed at all times and be vigilant against infiltration, subversion and splittism by hostile forces."

But in two decades of economic reform, the People's Daily circulation has halved to 3 million. In four years, the number of Internet accounts has soared past two million, with the number of users many times that because of shared accounts.

Internet service providers know they are under scrutiny this week. Sohu, a popular Chinese-language site, decided to close its chatrooms for 10 days. But others remain active.