China calls on Russia, central Asia allies to tighten Internet controls

DUSHANBE Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:39am IST

People use computers at an Internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

People use computers at an Internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province September 26, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer/Files

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DUSHANBE (Reuters) - China on Thursday urged Russia and Central Asian partners in a six-nation security alliance to tighten control over the Internet and take other steps to prevent "external forces" from fomenting revolution in member states.

Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun's remarks at a meeting with counterparts from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) could lead to fears of further restrictions by states that critics say already try to silence dissent.

They are likely to please the Kremlin, however, which accuses the West of supporting opposition protesters who drove an ally of Moscow from the presidency in Ukraine in February as well as of supporting government opponents in Russia.

"External forces are using the social-economic contradictions and problems ... to overthrow the authorities and are trying to provoke a new wave of colour revolutions," Guo said, according to a Russian translation of his remarks.

"Colour revolution" is the Russian term for the street protests that have brought down leaders in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan in the past decade.

"This is a serious threat to the sovereignty and security of countries in the region and is a shared concern of the SCO member states," Guo said.

The security alliance comprises Russia and China and the Central Asian former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Guo called on member states to come up with measures "to counteract interference in internal affairs from abroad, strengthen management of non-government organisations and control over social networks in order to discover, analyse, counter and regulate factors of uncertainty and avoid repeats of colour revolution scenarios," according to the translation.

Kremlin critics accuse President Vladimir Putin of clamping down on dissent since he started a third term in 2012.

Russian authorities last month blocked access to a handful of Internet sites that have been platforms for criticism of the government, including those of prominent Putin foes Alexei Navalny and Garry Kasparov.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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