As President Ronald Reagan used to say, “There they go again!” China is once again censoring what it’s people can read and hear.
The authorities were also blocking attempts to mention The Times or the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, in postings on Sina Weibo, an extremely popular mini-blogging service in China that resembles Twitter.
China maintains the world’s most extensive and sophisticated system for Internet censorship, employing tens of thousands of people to monitor what is said, delete entries that contravene the country’s extensive and unpublished regulations and even write new entries that are favorable to the government.
The English-language and Chinese-language Web sites of The Times are hosted on servers outside mainland China.
Former President Jiang Zemin of China ordered an end to blocking of The New York Times Web site after meeting with journalists from The Times in August 2001. The company’s Web sites, like those of most other foreign media organizations, have remained mostly free of blocking since then, with occasional, temporary exceptions.
By 7 a.m. Friday in China, access to both the English- and Chinese-language Web sites of The Times was blocked from all 31 cities in mainland China tested. The Times had posted the article in English at 4:34 p.m. on Thursday in New York (4:34 a.m. Friday in Beijing), and finished posting the article in Chinese three hours later after the translation of final edits to the English-language version.
Publication of the article about Mr. Wen and his family comes at a delicate time in Chinese politics, during a year in which factional rivalries and the personal lives of Chinese leaders have come into public view to a rare extent and drawn unprecedented international interest.
The New York Times is not the first international organization to run into trouble with Chinese censors. Google decided to move its servers for the Chinese market in January 2010, to Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory outside the country’s censorship firewalls, after the company was unable to reach an agreement with the Chinese authorities to allow unrestricted searches of the Internet.
Bloomberg published an article on June 29 describing wealth accumulated by the family of Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to become the country’s next top leader as general secretary of the Communist Party during the coming Party Congress.
Since then, Bloomberg’s operations have encountered a series of problems in mainland China, including the blocking of its Web site, which is in English.
Unless the free world stand up and lets China know that this censorship cannot be tolerated, they will continue to be the sole determinator on what Chinese people can read and hear.
Thanks to KEITH BRADSHER and the New York Times, and
Thanks for “listening”
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