China Blocks Access To The New York Times
China has blocked its citizens from accessing the website of The New York Times after the paper published a story putting the country’s Prime Minister in a bad light:
HONG KONG — The Chinese government swiftly blocked access Friday morning to the English-language and Chinese-language Web sites of The New York Times from computers in mainland China in response to an article in both languages describing wealth accumulated by the family of the country’s prime minister.
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.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman on duty in Beijing early Friday morning did not answer phone calls seeking comment.
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tens of thousands of people to monitor what is said, delete entries that contravene the country’s extensive and unpublished regulations and even write new entries that are favorable to the government.
Rebecca MacKinnon, a senior fellow specializing in Internet free expression and privacy issues at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan group headquartered in Washington, said that the Chinese interruption of Internet access was typical of the response to information that offended leaders.
“This is what they do: they get mad, they block you,” she said.
The English-language and Chinese-language Web sites of The Times are hosted on servers outside mainland China.
A spokeswoman for The Times, Eileen Murphy, expressed disappointment that Internet access had been blocked and noted that the Chinese-language Web site had attracted “great interest” in China.
“We hope that full access is restored shortly, and we will ask the Chinese authorities to ensure that our readers in China can continue to enjoy New York Times journalism,” she said in a statement, adding, “We will continue to report and translate stories applying the same journalistic standards that are upheld across The New York Times.”
The Chinese have done this in the past, of course, and they typically have lifted the block after some period of time. One assumes this will happen in this case as well.