China will launch a campaign to keep terrorism-related video and audio information off the Internet, on grounds that publicity encourages terrorists to commit more violent acts, the State Internet Information Office said.
The office announced the move in a video conference attended by heads of provincial Internet information offices.
Almost every terrorist involved in recent violence, including the March 1 knife-wielding assailants who killed 29 civilians in Kunming, Yunnan province, and the May 22 bomb attack that killed 43 in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, once listened to or watched videos and audio files related to terrorism, an official with the State office said at the conference. The official did not want to be named.
Mei Jianming, director of the Anti-Terrorism Research Center at the People's Public Security University of China, said the Internet has become the main channel for terrorists and religious extremists to recruit, plan, promote and organise terror attacks.
"It is a must now. I hope it can sever the communication channels of terrorists and extremists," he said.
The situation has been worse this year, as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and other separatist forces released many more terror videos and audio files through overseas websites, and many of them have spread to China via various means, the official said.
The group, which advocates violence to force the separation of Xinjiang from China, has been identified as a terrorist group by China, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
The official said the State Internet Information Office will step up efforts to crack down on acts of spreading terror videos and audio information that includes attack methods and Internet sales of products to aid in staging attacks.
After the attack in Urumqi on April 30, which killed three and injured 79, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement released a video on how to make a briefcase bomb of the type that was used in the attack. It also claimed responsibility for the deadly incident.
Since March 31, the police in Xinjiang have detained more than 230 suspects accused of uploading, downloading and spreading audio and video promoting terrorism and extremism.
On May 20, courts in the region convicted 39 people. The longest sentence was 15 years.
Mei of the anti-terrorism centre said it is a challenge to stop the spread of material in digital form because many Internet servers are outside of China and use different technologies.
International cooperation, especially with the US and Central Asian countries, is key, he said.