China launches hotline for netizens to report ‘unlawful’ historical past feedback By Reuters

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© Reuters.

By Cate Cadell

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s cyber regulator has set up a hotline to report online comments defaming the ruling Communist Party and its history. She promises to take action against “historical nihilists” before the party’s 100th anniversary in July.

The tip line enables people to report other Internet users who “distort” the history of the party, attack its leadership and politics, defame national heroes and “deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture,” says a message from an arm in the cyberspace administration of China () on Friday.

“Some with ulterior motives … have spread historical nihilistic misrepresentations online, maliciously distorted, denigrated and negated the history of the party,” the statement said.

“We hope that the majority of Internet users will actively contribute to community surveillance … and be enthusiastic about reporting harmful information,” it said.

“Historical nihilism” is a term used in China to describe public doubts and skepticism about the Chinese Communist Party’s description of past events.

China’s internet is strictly censored and most foreign social media networks, search engines and news agencies are banned in the country.

Internet authorities often increase censorship and online surveillance before major events such as historic anniversaries, political meetings, and sporting events.

The notice did not specify the penalties to be imposed on those reported on the hotline. However, internet users in China face jail terms and other legal penalties for posting content that is critical to the county’s leadership, policies and history.

Legislative changes published earlier this year provide that those who “insult, defame or harm” the memory of China’s national heroes and martyrs face a prison sentence of up to three years.

Last week, authorities in east China’s Jiangsu Province arrested a 19-year-old man after posting “insulting” comments online about the Japanese occupation of Nanjing in 1937.

Chinese social media sites that do not censor critical content are also faced with financial sanctions and temporary suspensions of service under current law.

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