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China 30 March 2007

French website blocked for warning of risks of investing in China

The blocking of access to the Observatoire International des Crises website (www.communication-sensible.com) within China since late February after it posted an article, entitled “Shanghai, mon amour,” (Shangaï, my love) warning companies about the risks of trading with China shows that Chinese online censorship is by no means limited to “subversive” political content, Reporters Without Borders said today.

“Internet filtering is not just a problem for political activists, it also affects those who do business with China,” the press freedom organisation said. “How do you assess an investment opportunity if no reliable information about social tension, corruption or local trade unions is available? This case of censorship, affecting a very specialised site with solely French-language content, shows the government attaches as much importance to the censorship of economic data as political content.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The free flow of information online is not only a human rights issue, it is essential to lasting economic growth and the creation of solid trade relations with other countries.”

The Observatoire International des Crises (OIC) is a French organisation that produces a magazine on crisis management methods for businesses. The article that prompted China’s censorship, written by Didier Heiderich, said: “The Middle Kingdom has managed to divert international investments for its benefit, obtain technologies without anything in return other that the promises arising from our own imagination, gag its dissidents - including those abroad - and ensnare the west in its golden clutches (...) Perhaps it is time to realise this before we are closed in the Chinese trap for good.” The complete article.

The OIC issued a release on 28 March condemning the censorship of their website, which - it says - shows “the extreme fragility of freedoms” in China. “It seems to us to be more evident than ever that companies setting up, relocating or buying in China should be discerning and vigilant, acting with industrial rigour and social and environmental responsibility,” the release says.

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