|"Whether we can cope with the internet is a matter that affects the development of socialist culture, the security of information, and the stability of the state" |
But he made it clear that Chinese internet regulators should work to ensure that they keep control of China's internet users.
The party has to "use advanced technologies to better guide public opinions" and "promote online products that can represent the grand Chinese culture", Xinhua quoted Hu as saying.
Hu’s comments came a day after official data showed the number of Chinese using the internet grew by 26 million, or 23.4 per cent, in 2006, to reach 10.5 per cent of the total population.
According to the China Internet Network Information Centre, which compiled the figures, that puts China on track to overtake the US as world’s most online population within the next two years.
The Chinese government is eager to promote internet use for educational and business potential, but tries to block the public from material deemed subversive or obscene.
As a result, the vast majority of Chinese users have no access to overseas Chinese web sites offering uncensored opinion or news critical of the ruling party.
Sites that cover, for example, the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, democracy, free speech or Taiwan are blocked, as are pornographic sites and others which are considered unsuitable.
Foreign companies such as Google and Yahoo!, have been criticised for co-operating with the Chinese government in its efforts to censor the web, including agreeing to have internal content monitors.
But despite heavy monitoring news of official misdeeds and dissident opinion has been able to travel through online bulletin boards and blogs.
In his comments to the politburo Hu told officials to intensify control even as they seek to release the internet's economic potential.
"Ensure that one hand grasps development while one hand grasps administration," he said.
"Whether we can cope with the internet is a matter that affects the development of socialist culture, the security of information, and the stability of the state."