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Xinhua Insight: China launches crackdown on online terrorist materials

BEIJING, June 20 (Xinhua) -- China launched a campaign on Friday to rid the Internet of audio and video materials that promote terrorism and violence.

The move is aimed at safeguarding social stability in western China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and long-term peace, according to a statement from the State Internet Information Office (SIIO).

The authorities will prevent terrorist materials produced overseas from being disseminated in China, clear such information online, punish website servers violating the rules and urge Internet companies to uphold their responsibilities.

"Terror video and audio products have become a major instigator of the high incidence of terrorist activities at present," the statement read.

Xinjiang saw its bloodiest day in five years on May 22 when 39 innocent people were killed in a terrorist attack in the regional capital of Urumqi.

On April 30, three people were killed and 79 injured in an attack at a railway station in Urumqi. In March, assailants killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

Police said most of the suspects seized in these cases were led on by terrorist video and audio products to carry out terrorist activities.

Many of them had learned how to make explosives through online tutorials. They exchanged experiences of making explosives and propagating Jihad through chat tools, text messages and illegal preaching sites.

The SIIO described this year's situation as "especially grave" because the amount of terrorist video and audio materials released by separatist forces including the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has shot up.

"These materials, which propagate Jihad, terrorism and religious extremism, have been spread incessantly in China," according to the statement. "They have had a strong instigation effect and are extremely harmful."

In 2013, the ETIM, listed by the United Nations Security Council as a terrorist group, produced 107 pieces of terror-related audio and video content, some of which spread to China, figures from Xinjiang's regional public security department showed.

More than 30 websites including Sina, Tencent, Baidu and Taobao signed a letter of commitment on Friday to take their responsibilities regarding anti-terrorism and deleting terror information.

"Fighting against online terror audio and video materials is our most important political task now," said Zhao Tian, deputy editor-in-chief of Sina.com.

The company has started training its staff to recognize and delete terror-related content to safeguard cyber security, she said, adding that more than 800 pieces of information containing terrorism have been deleted.

Zhao Cheng, editor-in-chief of Baidu, China's leading search engine firm, said the company is cooperating with police authorities to check clues about crimes of spreading terror information online.

In the wake of a series of bloody terrorist attacks in the country, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for "walls made of copper and steel" and "nets spread from the earth to the sky" to capture terrorists at a central work conference on Xinjiang in late May.

Chinese police launched a year-long nationwide anti-terror operation with Xinjiang as the major battleground last month.

Waging a people's war against terrorism, the SIIO encouraged the public to provide it with tip-offs regarding online terror information and promised rewards of up to 100,000 yuan (16,260 U.S. dollars) for those who offer important clues.

(To stay up to date with the latest China news, follow XHNews on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XHNews and Xinhua News Agency on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/XinhuaNewsAgency.)

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