China shuts down websites, arrests six, amid coup rumors


Sacked Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who battled organized crime in Chongqing.

Chinese authorities have arrested six people and closed down 16 websites for spreading rumors of a coup attempt in Beijing, the Times of India reported.

The move comes two weeks after the surprise sacking of senior Communist Party figure Bo Xilai as leader of the Chongqing municipality.

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China's State Internet Information Office ( SIIO) and Beijing police said websites were closed after rumors were circulated last week that military vehicles were “entering Beijing” and that “something wrong was going on in Beijing."

The SIIO said such fabrications had a "very bad influence on the public" and the websites were closed according to Chinese laws designed to stop the spread of rumors, a spokesman told state-run Xinhua news agency.

Two major Chinese microblogging sites, weibo.com and t.qq.com, have suspended comment functions, Xinhua reported today. Collectively, the sites host about 300 million micropbloggers.

In an online post, the sites said the comment function would be suspended until April 3 to clean up rumors and other "illegal information" spread through microbloggings, the Times of India reported.

The sacking of Bo, who had been seen as a front runner for promotion when the party changes its leadership, points to behind-the-scenes infighting for for control of the Communist Party, the BBC reported.

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Bo's dismissal followed a scandal last month in which his former chief of police Wang Lijun spent a day at a United States consulate, spurring rumors he was seeking asylum.

China will begin its once-in-a-decade leadership change at its 18th Party Congress later this year.