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China beefs up security before Congress

Shanghai's Bishop Ma keeps blogging despite clampdown

Policemen patrol Tiananmen Square ahead of the Congress Policemen patrol Tiananmen Square ahead of the Congress
  • ucanews.com reporter, Shanghai
  • China
  • November 5, 2012
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China has tightened security across the country as well as in cyberspace to ensure a smooth opening of the Communist Party Congress this Thursday, which is expected to see a once-in-a-decade power transition.

Some Catholic internet users have said they can no longer bypass the “Great Firewall” to access overseas websites and sometimes cannot even open domestic sites, including ucanews.com’s Chinese blog .

The Great Firewall, or the Chinese internet censorship program, has been upgraded in recent days, according to media reports. The government is especially targeting virtual private networks (VPNs), used by the tech-savvy to bypass the firewall.

More and more sensitive keywords are filtered from internet search engines to prevent unfavorable information that may affect stability. The blog and weibo (China’s Twitter-like microblog) accounts of some well known dissidents and human rights defenders have been heavily monitored and even deleted.

Despite this heightened security, Auxiliary Bishop Ma Daqin of Shanghai, who is forbidden from exercising his espicopal ministry and is confined to Sheshan Seminary, is still updating his blog.

In a blog entitled, "Letter of a Child," posted on Saturday, Bishop Ma reminisces about his parents, as November is the Month of the Holy Souls, but says he felt “very gratified” that they died early.

“If they were still alive today, I don’t know how nervous and worried [about me] they would be!” he writes, adding that when visitors go to see him, their first words are often “have you been beaten up?” or “you look thin and gaunt.”

Bishop Ma said even though drinking tea (his metaphor for being summoned by government officials) many times and being warned not to have any illusions, “my thoughts are free.”

The Vatican-approved prelate, 45, has been at the seminary for almost four months after he announced he was quitting the Catholic Patriotic Association -- which advocates an independent Church -- at his episcopal ordination in July.

Related reports

Shanghai Religious undergo re-education
Seminaries delay start of academic year
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