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China tightens grip on Web amid coup talk

In this photo taken Wednesday, July 14, 2010, a Chinese man uses a computer at an Internet cafe in Beijing, China.
In this photo taken Wednesday, July 14, 2010, a Chinese man uses a computer at an Internet cafe in Beijing, China.
Associated Press

BEIJING (MCT) — China has launched an Internet crackdown amid its worst political crisis in decades, shuttering more than a dozen websites, limiting access to the country's largest microblog providers and arresting six people for spreading rumors about a coup attempt in Beijing.

The measures, announced Friday, represent the strongest attempt yet to quash speculation that the nation's leadership is racked by infighting after the ouster of Bo Xilai, the controversial Communist Party chief of mega-city Chongqing.

The official New China News Agency quoted a spokesman for the State Internet Information Office as saying authorities were punishing 16 websites and six people for "fabricating or disseminating online rumors" about "military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing."

Sina Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., providers of China's wildly popular Twitter-like services, said they were halting users' ability to comment on posts until Tuesday morning to "clean up" what they described as "harmful messages."

Rumors of a coup first surfaced last week on U.S.-based Chinese websites and in Hong Kong and Taiwanese media. Conjecture centered around an alleged power grab by Bo's patron on the standing committee, Zhou Yongkang.