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China 3 November 2005

Chinese blog shut down just days after being nominated for free expression contest

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the censorship of pro-democracy writer Wang Yi’s blog (http://zhivago.tianyablog.com), which was closed down just days after it was nominated for the “freedom of expression” category in a blog contest (www.thebobs.de) being organised by the German radio station Deutsche Welle.

“We call for the immediate reopening of this blog and we point out that the Chinese constitution is supposed to guarantee free expression,” the press freedom organisation said. “In a country where self-censorship reigns, we should salute the courage of the few bloggers like Wang who dare to publicly protest against government bans.”

The company that hosts the Tianya website closed the blog down on the orders of the Internet surveillance bureau in Hai Nan province (southwest of Guangzhou). When Internet users now try to access the blog, they see an error message saying it is “no longer accessible.”

A teacher at Chengdu university in the southwestern province of Sichuan and member of the international writers’ association PEN, Wang initially created the site to make all his writings available in one place. He gradually turned it into a blog dealing with sensitive subjects. One of his last articles was about a campaign by peasants in Guangdong province to remove a village chief accused of corruption.

The authorities had been trying for six months to block access to the blog. “As soon as I find a way to get round their filtering system, the local police use a new technique to censor my blog,” Wang said. He added that he was “very annoyed” with the Tianya company and the Hai Nan authorities for getting his blog shut down.




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