As China prepares to make its once-a-decade leadership transition, it is clamping down on security. It is the country’s first attempt to do so in a wired Chinese world. Half a billion Chinese have been empowered by sharing information on blogs and on Chinese versions of Twitter.
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Internet censors have been heavily at work, building up to the November 8 date when President Hu Jintao is expected to hand over the reins to Xi Jinping.
Virtual private networks have also been targeted by security since those are often used to bypass normal internet security blocks.
A so-called voluntary security force of 1.4 million people has been mobilized by the government.
Increased security is a normal part of the process of leadership change in China but in modern times, the Chinese people’s awareness of citizens’ rights is outstepping authorities’ ability to keep protests under control.
Chinese leaders say they must contain various factors that can lead to disharmony, insecurity, and instability for the party congress.
In 2002 at the last leadership change, China had only about 50 million internet users. By the end of the first half of 2012, it had over 530 billion users. Chinese leadership says the security clampdown is to ensure a smooth leadership transition.