Anonymous China
Anonymous China announced the attack on Friday morning, publishing on Pastebin a list of institutional websites that were about to be targeted (screengrab)

The Anonymous hacking collective has landed in China, home of some of the most tightly controlled internet access in the world, and defaced hundreds of government websites in what appears to be a massive online operation against Beijing.

Anonymous listed its intended institutional targets on Pastebin and has now attacked them.

Anonymous Kroll claimed that hundreds of websites had been defaced or taken offline by the collective. "#China: Several hundred websites #defacedand 4659 Vhosts #hacked by &" read the tweet.

The defaced homepages carry a statement against the Chinese government along with the traditional Anonymous banner and the generational anthem Baba O'Riley by The Who played in background.

"All these years, the Chinese communist government has subjected its people to unfair laws and unhealthy processes," reads the statement. "Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall."

It contains also a message directed at the Chinese people: "Each of you suffers from the tyranny of that regime which knows nothing about you," reads the message. "We are with you. [...]The silence of all other countries highlights the lack of democracy and justice in China. It's unbearable."

The defacements also provide a link with tips on how to bypass state censorship.

The latest development came after China's state media announced an extensive crackdown on dozens of websites, penalising two popular social media sites and detaining six people for spreading rumours of a coup d'état.