China monitoring calls with “Protest” word

BEIJING — If anyone wonders whether the Chinese government has tightened its grip on electronic communications since protests began engulfing the Arab world, Shakespeare may prove instructive.

A Beijing entrepreneur, discussing restaurant choices with his fiancée over their cellphones last week, quoted Queen Gertrude’s response to Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase on Monday in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence.

A host of evidence over the past several weeks shows that Chinese authorities are more determined than ever to police cellphone calls, electronic messages, e-mail and access to the Internet in order to smother any hint of antigovernment sentiment. In the cat-and-mouse game that characterizes electronic communications here, analysts suggest that the cat is getting bigger, especially since revolts began to ricochet through the Middle East and North Africa, and homegrown efforts to organize protests in China began to circulate on the Internet about a month ago.

On Sunday, Google accused the Chinese government of disrupting its Gmail service in the country and making it appear as if technical problems at Google — not government intervention — were to blame.

Source : http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/world/asia/22china.html?_r=2

Editor comments that the above calls were made to the Beijing office of the New York Times and are not meant to be indicative of the the broader  public position on censorship in China

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