The Unirule Institute of Economics in Beijing is the latest target of a government crackdown after the forced retirement of a professor who criticized Mao Zedong and sacking of a provincial official who called communist China's founder the "devil."
Liberal intellectuals and Chinese political observers are growing alarmed by the government crackdown, which overlaps with the rise of an increasingly cohesive and confident movement both on China's internet and its streets dedicated to defending Mao's reputation and his hardline legacy. Since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, reformist magazines and websites have been shut while university professors and even the country's judiciary have been warned against spreading liberal Western values.
Mao Yushi, Unirule's founder who is not related to Mao Zedong, said Wednesday that representatives from the ruling Communist Party informed him last week that the website was shut down because it violated the law, but gave no details.
"It's a terrible thing, it existed for many years," Mao told The Associated Press. "I told (the officials) this is not the law, and they had no response because they won't answer these questions."
The Beijing branch of the Cyberspace Administration of China said this week it closed 17 websites, including that of Unirule, as part of a cleanup of websites providing unauthorized news and pornography.