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China has an estimated 40,000 Internet monitors, who shut down Chinese sites that publish banned material and block Chinese readers from accessing sensitive foreign Web sites. China does all of this in an effort to promote stability, and ultimately to preserve the reign of the Communist Party.

For instance, Beijing simply unplugged 20 million people after unrest last summer — for about six months. It shut down telecommunications across the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region following July riots in Urumqi. Nearly 200 people were killed there after a Muslim minority demonstration turned into an ethnic riot pitting Uighurs against Han Chinese.

Authorities vowed to restore order, so they blocked the Internet, barred international calls and shut down text messaging –for nearly six months. Late last month, authorities gradually began to lift the Internet ban: Residents can now reach two government sites and two Chinese commercial websites, according to China Daily. After half a year, limited cell phone texting was turned back on this week. Residents are limited to sending 20 messages a day, and only to phone numbers in mainland China.

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