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Chinese Internet Is Very, Very Quiet After China Arrested 15,000 For "Internet Crimes"

A "Cleaning the Internet" initiative is apparently also cleaning opinions about itself.

Posted on August 18, 2015, at 3:15 p.m. ET

Chinese police stated Tuesday that they've investigated more than 7,400 "internet crime" cases and arrested over 15,000 suspects a month and a half into a six-month initiative, "Cleaning the Internet", being carried out nationwide, according to Reuters.

Goh Chai Hin / AFP / Getty Images

The focus of the mission is to "crack down with heavy blows" on crimes such as "cyber attacks, site intrusions, online banking Trojan horses, internet fraud," wrote the country's Ministry of Public Security.

The initiative has led to the arrest of suspects from recent well-known cases such as the Beijing Uniqlo sex video, Tianjin explosion scamming, and the banned 120 "immoral" songs including "I Love Taiwanese Girls."

Gou Yige / AFP / Getty Images

News of the arrests has been picked by Chinese state news agencies such as Xinhua as well as major Chinese portals. But none of them have posted anything about it on Weibo, which is the usual platform for sharing stories.

Gou Yige / AFP / Getty Images

Phoenix New Media's coverage of the crackdown on its website received over 100 comments. But every single one expresses support in a uniform tone: "Support the Public Security to 'Clean the Internet' in a long term, and be internet user's patron saint!"

The Chinese government regularly hires censors to delete posts of different opinions. At the same time, it also hires internet commentators — known as the "50 Cents Party" because of the amount they're paid per comment — to "correct" public opinions.

Only about 40 comments in total can be found about the news on Weibo, where usually thousands of people can be easily found weighing in under posts about important social issues.

And most of those that have been posted are like what user "Anti-espionage Sickle" said: "Firmly support internet cracking down on all sorts of opinions against China and the Communist Party, [let's] punish them all and not tolerate even one."

This has left the Chinese internet feeling a little too quiet for the silence to be natural.

That's especially concerning as this is the closest thing to a differing opinion BuzzFeed News found throughout Weibo:

"It freaked me out, just reading the headline I thought those who are not respectful for the Party will be arrested," the user wrote, followed by a sideways-glancing dog emoji.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.