CHINA, WIRED

A NEW ONLINE SERVICE TIPTOES PAST THE PARTY

How far are the Chinese people from the information highway? asks a billboard in Beijing. The answer, according to the billboard: 100 meters--the distance to the headquarters of CompuNet, China's first commercial online service and one of a handful of companies offering citizens access to the Internet.

It's yet another sign that the Communist Party is loosening its once total control over the flow of information in China. Some 40,000 Chinese are already online, either through the government-run ChinaNet or through outfits like 1+Net, which runs CompuNet and a sister site on the Web (http://www.ihw.co.cn).

CompuNet has been open for business...

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