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29september20093The international press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders announced today that "[Chinese] Government security paranoia in the run-up to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the People's Republic of China on 1 October has led to a reinforcement of online censorship and abusive behaviour towards foreign journalists," They added that "A case of police brutality towards three foreign journalists was particularly unacceptable."

Internet control agencies have redoubled efforts to prevent Internet users based in China, including foreign residents, from using censorship circumvention software such as Freegate and virtual private networks (VPN) by blocking tens of thousands suspected IP addresses. "The Electronic Great Wall has never been as consolidated as it is now, on the eve of the 1 October anniversary, proving that the Chinese government is not so sure of its record," Reporters Without Borders said.

China's leaders have made combating separatism one of the watchwords of the 60th anniversary, and new regulations have just been issued for combating online separatism in the far-western province of Xinjiang. Most Uyghur-language and Xinijang-based websites that existed before the clampdown imposed after the unrest in last July are either still inaccessible or their content has not been updated. Xinjiang residents have been cut off from the Internet for almost three months and Uyghurs are being deprived of all news and information that is independent of the official media

Three China-base Mongol websites - Mongol Ger Association, Mongol People Chat Room and Mongolian People have been rendered inaccessible in the past few weeks.

The authorities accused all three sites of conspiring with hostile and separatist foreign forces - the same grounds that have been cited for censoring dozens of Tibetan websites and forums.

Chinese hackers have meanwhile posted crude messages and xenophobic slogans on Taiwanese and Australian film festival websites in protest against the screening of "The 10 Conditions of Love," a documentary about Uyghur exiled activist Rebiya Kadeer, who is blamed by the Chinese authorities for stirring up the violence in Xinjiang.

China-based foreign journalists have also been the target of hacker attacks. Emails containing viruses have been sent to correspondents and the Chinese assistants of foreign reporters have received booby-trapped emails that try to establish a parallel control over the recipient's computer. At the same time, Chinese websites based abroad such as Boxun have received very aggressive distributed denial-of-service attacks DDOS (in which targeted servers are swamped by simultaneous communication requests).

Police have used violence against foreign journalists trying to cover the preparations for the 1 October parade. Three Japanese journalists were attacked in their hotel room by plain-clothes men after a parade rehearsal on 18 September. They were hit about the head and their computers were smashed. This occurred after the authorities warned more than a dozen of foreign news media not to film or photograph the preparations.

This article is mailed by RSF based in Paris and edited By Evelin, The Tibet Post International.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com