On October 30, the Complaints Center (举报中心) of the Cyberspace Administration China released a statement saying that it had recently received repeated notification from internet companies reporting that they had received e-mail messages that appeared to be from the CAC or related bodies and demanded removal of content for supposed violations.

These “deletion orders” (撤稿指令), the CAC said, had been sent by “criminals” (不法分子) who had falsely represented themselves and sought to “obtain improper benefit” by removal of online content. The implication seems to be that individuals or firms have been offering for-pay deletion services to help clients remove content viewed as undesirable or harmful.

In its notice, the CAC said that two of the addresses used in the e-mails sent to internet companies — [email protected] and [email protected] – were, respectively, the official address of the agency and the address used for citizens to send complaints about problem content. But neither had ever been used by the department, the CAC said, to carry out disciplinary measures.

“We hereby firmly attest that our center has never issued so-called article deletion or post deletion orders to internet companies through the above-mentioned channels,” the CAC said in its notice.

The Complaints Center of the CAC said that on average it receives 100,000 complaints each month about internet content through its formal channels. After a “strict and regulated” process of assessment, it said, content requiring further action was either handled through “platform systems” (平台系统), an apparent reference to technical censorship procedures already established with internet firms, or referred to local offices of the CAC by official notification (公文).