The Internet, as you may have noticed, just seems to keep on growing. But not in China — in fact, Chinese officials said that the country had 41 percent fewer sites at the end of 2010 than existed one year earlier — mostly the result of government restrictions.
Worldwide, there were a reported 255 million websites at the end of 2010. That number, drawn from research conducted by Royal Pingdom, reflects a yearly gain of 21.4 million sites.
As the BBC reports, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences isn't alarmed by the fact that China closed down 1.3 million websites in 2010. In fact, the trend "means our content is getting stronger, while our supervision is getting more strict and more regulated," said researcher Liu Ruisheng. He also maintained that Chinese Internet users enjoy freedom of speech.
It seems that Ruisheng sees China's Internet as being like a bonsai tree — pruned and chopped, sure, but alive and thriving in some spots.
Some of the closures are likely related to China's attempt to clamp down on pornography, an initiative launched in 2009.
The BBC report notes that its own Chinese-language service is routinely blocked in China, a fate shared by most social media sites, as well. And as NPR reported in December, China sought to block sites and TV from reporting the news that a jailed dissident, Liu Xiabao, had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
And in 2008, Chinese officials targeted web videos, which were blamed for harming society.