Beijing’s police chief has threatened “severe punishment” against Internet users who “attack” China’s Communist Party, raising fears of an intensified crackdown on freedom of speech ahead of a sensitive political transition.
Fu Zhenghua (傅政华), the chief of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, made his comments earlier this week at a meeting regarding a recently announced month-long government campaign to “clean up” the Internet.
Fu said “Those who make up and spread political rumors, attack the Party, and government leaders and the system will receive a public warning or severe punishment according to the law.”
The Party-controlled Global Times said Fu did not specify what constitutes a political rumor or attack, and noted that some Chinese web users are concerned that the “clean-up” campaign is an attempt to mute online criticisms of the government.
The report comes a day after Chinese authorities announced they have arrested over 10,000 suspected online criminals and erased 3.2 million “harmful” online messages since a wide-ranging campaign against cybercrimes was launched in March.