China’s Internet regulator has called for the tightening of Internet security measures to prevent "overseas hostile forces" from using the Web to "attack, slander and spread rumors", according to an official cited by Reuters.
Wang Xiujun, deputy director of the China National Internet Information Office spoke of "the struggle for ideological penetration", which he said would "decide to a great extent the future of our party and country".
In February, President Xi Jinping, who was appointed last year, took direct control of a government body for Internet security, moving towards turning China into a "cyber power". He has indicated that he is in favour of using the Internet to "spread discipline".
Since Xi’s appointment last year, the government has launched a crackdown on online dissent, announcing legal measures against those whose alleged slanderous posts on microblogs are reposted more than 500 times or seen by more than 5,000 people.
China and the US are particularly at odds over the issue of cyber security. US lawmakers have publicly alleged complicity on the part of Chinese technology firms in espionage within US borders. And in March China condemned the US National Security Agency for accessing servers at Huawei, which was reported by The New York Times and Der Spiegel, referencing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
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