China's censorship crackdown appears to have had a heavy effect on the domestic internet industry, with the number of websites tumbling 41% in a year.
There were just 1.91 million Chinese websites in operation at the end of 2010, according to Chinese government think-tank the Academy of Social Sciences. It marks the first time on record that the number of sites has decreased.
Independent analysts told the South China Morning Post that efforts to control free speech on the internet, redoubled in the wake of the revolutions in the Middle East earlier in the year, were to blame for the decline.
They say activity on interactive websites such as discussion forums has plummeted under the weight of the censorship efforts.
The thinktank denies that political censorship is to blame, but said that a large number of websites had been shut down in the government's various online porn crackdowns for not being officially registered.
A number of sites also went bust due to the fallout of the economic crisis, the Academy said.
But the report also accuses the US and Google of mounting an assault on China's “ideological safety,” stating that Google's high-profile withdrawal from the market was a “political conspiracy” calculated to embarrass the Chinese government.
- Webwire: ACCC takes Apple to court; Google faces UK privacy heat
- Webwire: China internet base tops 500m; Huawei invests $150m in India
- Webwire: True-CAT 3G deal won't be repeated; Chinese cities ink microblog laws
- Webwire: Huawei buys Symantec's half in JV; CBI probes SingTel
- US challenges China on net restrictions