Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
China 1 February 2008

How cyber-censors blocked dissemination of report on Internet censorship

Reporters Without Borders and Chinese Human Rights Defenders have obtained a copy of a directive issued by the authorities responsible for Internet censorship in an attempt to prevent online circulation of the report “Journey to the Heart of Internet censorship (,” which the two organisations issued on 10 October 2007.

“We condemn the censorship of any information that aims to increase awareness of the real situation of the Internet in China,” the two organisations said. “The rights of Chinese Internet users are systematically violated by the government, although we are now only six months away from the Olympic Games.”

Just hours after the report was issued, Yang Le, the head of the Beijing Information Office, which is in charge of Internet control, circulated an order to websites and ISPs asking them to update their lists of banned key-words. The new banned key-words, mostly relating to the Internet, were used throughout the Reporters Without Borders report.

The name of the report’s author, a “Mr. Tao,” who is a Beijing website technician, was also included in the new banned word-strings, as were “Reporters Without Borders” and “Chinese Human Rights Defenders,” whose websites are inaccessible in China. This is the text of the directive issued by the Beijing Information Office:

“Urgent: Search engines must abort searches for certain key-words. This must take effect at 10:30.” The directive listed these key-words:

-  “render transparent the workings of the Chinese Internet control system”
-  “render transparent the workings of the Internet control system”
-  “the workings of the Chinese Internet control system”
-  “Chinese Internet control”
-  “Chinese Internet control system”
-  “how the Internet control system works”
-  “Tao Xici”
-  “control of the Tao Xici network”
-  “Tao Xici’s China”
-  “Reporters Without Borders”
-  “Chinese Human Rights Defender Network”
-  “reinforcement of Beijing’s control bodies”
-  “self-censorship” and “increase censorship”
-  “Century China”
-  “Aiqinhai website”
-  “technological process of Internet control in mainland China”
-  “network management bodies and online media”
-  “eviction of Tang Yan and Liu Xianghui”
-  “adoption / registering / Internet administration”
-  “Internet network”
-  “key-words”
-  “define unauthorised media”
-  “not reveal instructions”
-  “infiltration of Internet users and banning of key-words”
-  “control of the Chinese Internet network”
-  “pursuit of procedures for purging the Internet”
-  “searches aimed at suppressing website content”
-  “not reveal instructions after purging the network”
-  “disseminate instructions”

In this country
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years
12 May - China
Foreign reporters prevented from working in Sichuan a year after earthquake
24 April - China
Concern that detained Tibetan magazine editor is being tortured
25 March - China
Government blocks access to YouTube

in the annual report
China - Annual report 2008
China - Annual report 2007
China - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
29 May - Sri Lanka
Journalists trying to cover fate of Tamils are threatened, obstructed