The answer is no.
Shortly after the end of China’s 18th Communist Party Congress that saw Xi Jinping annointed as President and Chairman, several Western media organizations reported on a loosening of Internet censorship. It seems rather crazy at the time, as it coincided with the worst squeeze on Great Firewall busting VPN services that I have ever experienced here.
This week, a series of articles in the state press and apparent leaked propaganda government directives make it clear that we cannot expect a relaxation of Internet controls anytime soon. See below for just a few samples:
The People’s Daily: The Internet must be managed according to the law 网络需要依法运行
China Media Project: People’s Daily: be good online, please
Translation and commentary on People’s Daily front page commentary “The Internet is Not Outside the Law” (网络不是法外之地)
The Global Times: Freedom not at odds with online regulation
China Central Government website: General Administration of Press and Publications solicts opinions on draft regulations on Internet publishing services 新闻出版总署关于《网络出版服务管理办法》
Sohu: Trade and commercial departments to intensify supervision and clean up online market 工商部门将加大监管力度净化网络市场
China Digital Times, Directives from the Central Propaganda Department:
Ministry of Truth: Net Safety and the Safety Net
In the near future, Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, and other central media outlets will successively report typical cases of threats to Internet safety and infringement on citizens’ personal information. All media and websites are kindly asked to republish these documents in their entirety. Do not modify titles or content. Do not voluntarily collect reports and commentary related to Internet safety management, especially those voices which challenge Internet safety management. (December 19, 2012)
Some links above via the excellent Sinocism daily newsletter.