Beijing calls for an internet ‘fire moat’ for the city ahead of 19th National Congress

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Beijing is to get its own internet firewall within the national firewall in time for the 19th Party Congress, according to a report in the Beijing Daily.

China’s national internet security system, dubbed “the Great Firewall”, is the world’s largest apparatus for internet control, but it might not be enough. There are calls to build a “moat” as a line of defense in Beijing as part of preparations to make sure everything runs smoothly for the 19th Party Congress to be held in the capital next month.

As reported by the Beijing Daily (the Party newspaper serving Beijing), there was a meeting of the city’s cadres on September 26 to discuss preparations. Party secretary for Beijing (head of the local branch of the Communist Party), Cai Qi, listed a great many areas of security including ensuring food safety, production safety, smooth traffic flow and general security inspections.

But the Beijing Daily also paraphrases Cai Qi as saying about Beijing’s preparations:

“We need to build a line of defense for social control and eliminated all factors of instability. We need to build a line of defense for internet safety and resolutely attack all forms of political rumor and harmful messages (信息). We must build a “moat” as a line of defense (筑牢“护城河”防线), make advances in strengthening areas of joined up prevention, control, governance and attack to ensure absolute safety.”

Any such strengthening of internet surveillance and security follows other recent moves since the new Cybersecurity Law was implemented in June. New measures include the ending any anonymity when commenting online, tightened restrictions around VPN provision, and making group administrators responsible for the content of online discussion. Just this week internet companies Tencent, Weibo and Baidu were fined for carrying banned content.