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Hep B unrest looms as Chinese forum is blocked

A large hepatitis B support group in China recently lost its support site in a crackdown on civil society. Now some say they may be forced into taking "drastic" measures.

Graham Webster
Formerly a journalist and consultant in Beijing, Graham Webster is a graduate student studying East Asia at Harvard University. At Sinobyte, he follows the effects of technology on Chinese politics, the environment, and global affairs. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.
Graham Webster
2 min read

Members of a hepatitis B support group in China, numbering about 300,000, lost their online forum in a Chinese crackdown on civil society. Now some say they may be forced into taking drastic measures, even during the Olympics.

In an unusually prominent threat of collective action in China, Lu Jun, who ran a recently blocked site for carriers of hepatitis B, said some disgruntled members may be planning protests during the Olympics, according to the Financial Times:

Mr. Lu, who heads a rights group that has helped carriers sue companies such as IBM and Foxconn for discrimination, said the Web site was a gathering place for sufferers who had little other opportunity to vent their frustrations, or find support from doctors and fellow patients. By shutting it down, the Chinese government risked pushing patients to take drastic actions, Mr. Lu said.

"A common refrain in the messages we have received from members since the Web site was shut down is: 'I love my country, but my country doesn't love me,'" Mr. Lu said.

(The site) "In the Hepatitis B Camp" was first shut down by the government last November. On Tuesday, Mr. Lu said an official had told him at the time that the closure was due to the upcoming Olympic Games. Mr. Lu managed to reopen the Web site by moving it to an overseas server, but Beijing last month began blocking access to the Web site within China, just 10 days after government officials participated in an event for World Hepatitis Day at the Great Wall.