After the Olympics, China restarts the Great Firewall

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557760200_481fa01c76The Chinese-language websites of the BBC and Voice of America, along with Hong Kong-based websites belonging to media companies Ming Pao and Asiaweek, are being reported to have been re-blocked by the Chinese Government, and have been inaccessible since early December, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The Taiwanese and Hong Kong versions of Google’s YouTube are also reported to be inaccessible in China as well.

This is a reversal of promises made by the Chinese Government to lift restrictions on websites after promising them when it won the bid for the 2008 Olympic Games, which was held in Beijing in August. It also gave journalists more freedom on what sites they could access after journalists complained to the International Olympic Committee about China failing to live up to its pledge.

Reporters Without Borders is also saying that its own website was inaccessible to the Chinese since September 17, while the Mandarin version of the website belonging to Radio France Internationale has been blocked since the 17th of October, which was the day that the special regulations ceased to be effective.

“Right now, the authorities are gradually rolling back all the progress made in the run-up to this summer’s Olympic games, when even foreign websites in Mandarin were made accessible. The pretence of liberalisation is now over. The blocking of access to the websites of foreign news media speaks volumes about the government’s intolerance. We urge the authorities to unblock them again,” the organisation said in a statement.

China has defended its move, saying that other countries regulate what is seen by many internet users. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao told AP that certain websites (which were not named) breached Chinese laws by recognising that Taiwan was an independent nation. "I hope that these Web sites exercise self-discipline and abide by the Chinese laws, in order to pave the way for better Internet cooperation," he said.

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