China: government to strengthen control on blogs, search engines

The announcement comes amid a media crackdown by President Hu Jintao's government, with Web sites being shut down and journalists jailed.

China encourages Internet use for business and education, but tries to block access to material deemed obscene or politically dangerous.

It has the world's second-biggest Internet user population after the United States, with 111 million people online.

China launched a campaign in February to "purify the environment" of the Internet and mobile communications, Xinhua said.

China has 37 million Web logs, or blogs, Xinhua said, citing a study by Beijing's Tsinghua University, the AP reports.

The government tries to block Internet users from foreign Web sites of human rights groups and political activists, but many have found ways to evade the controls, the AP reports.

Authorities also have launched repeated crackdowns on Web sites that with sexual material, shutting down hundreds of sites and arresting scores of people.

Activists have criticized foreign Internet firms including Yahoo! Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. for cooperating with China's censorship efforts.