Beijing: China, world's largest online population with more than half a billion users, has shut down 42 websites and removed 210000 posts since mid-March in a major crackdown on online rumours. Presently, China government is facing a huge challenge to control the information its people are able to access.

The move comes after Chinese top political stalwart, Bo Xilai, was demoted from country’s powerful politburo after the name of his wife, Bogu Kailai, figured in a murder case. According to the police, she is the prime suspect in the murder case of 41-year-old British businessman Neil Heywood, who died in November last year from excessive drinking. But later suspicions of foul play led to the British government repeatedly asking for a new investigation.

Bo was sacked from the influential party post last month after the surfacing of the controversy of murder of the British national. Bo’s downfall is the biggest drama to hit the Communist Party.

Last week, Chinese officials closed 16 websites and detained six people responsible for ‘fabricating or disseminating online rumours.’ Also Beijing police arrested 1,065 suspects and deleted more than 208,000 "harmful" online messages as part of an intensive nationwide crackdown on Internet-related crimes conducted since mid-February.

This is perhaps for the first time the Chinese government, which was apprehensive about the emergence of the alternate media, cracked down on them, though a series of measures to regulate them were announced in the recent months.

The measures included mandatory registration of the real identity of the users.     As China spearheaded the mobile revolution with subscribers' number crossing over a billion recently, the microblogs have emerged as the enduring symbol of Chinese people's aspirations for opening up on the information front.

The number of Internet users in China is estimated to have reached 513 million last year.