China Resumes Web Censorship Tradition

    December 16, 2008

When people have guests, they tend to shape up.  Parents stop yelling, couples stop arguing, and maybe children don’t make as much of a mess.  Then, when the guests leave, everything goes back to normal, and it appears that China is heading in this direction with respect to banning websites.

Foreign journalists had pushed China to open up Web access during the Olympics; it loosened its grasp on sites that had been blocked for years as a result.  The Olympics was supposed to portray China as a powerful and modern nation, after all, and if journalists either couldn’t file their reports or focused on the negative, its success story wouldn’t get told.

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Now China’s through with tolerance.  Lucy Hornby reports, "Access to the Chinese-language versions of the BBC, Voice of America and Hong Kong media Ming Pao News and Asiaweek has been blocked . . ."

And foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao just explained the move by saying, "We can’t deny that some websites continue to have problems that violate Chinese law.  For instance, if a website refers to ‘two Chinas’ or refers to mainland China and Taiwan as two independent regions, we believe that violates China’s Anti-Seccession Law, as well as other laws."

This may result in a less-than-smooth path for American companies like Google and Yahoo that could have gained some ground under looser rules.