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Beijing Games 2008 6 August 2008

Cyber-censorship continues for Chinese-language websites

Reporters Without Borders condemns the continuing online censorship just two days before the Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremony. The authorities unblocked access to certain websites on 1 August, including the Reporters Without Borders website, which had been inaccessible since 2003. But the Chinese-language versions of these sites still cannot be accessed.

For example, the home page of Radio France Internationale’s Mandarin site is accessible but the links to all the other pages are blocked.

“The partial lifting of online censorship was just another government public relations operation,” Reporters Without Borders said. “ Nothing or almost nothing has changed for Chinese Internet users as very few Mandarin sites have been unblocked. Content referring to human rights, the Tibet region or the Tiananmen Square massacre is still blocked.”

The press freedom organisation added: “At the same time as they unblocked certain websites, the authorities blocked access to censorship circumvention tools. Chinese Internet users who do not read English have no option but to go to the websites the Party has decided to make available.”

Since 1 August, Radio France Internationale’s Mandarin site has been available for only an hour a day in certain regions of China while its French-language site has been blocked several times. The sites of several human rights organisations such as China Debate or Tiananmen Mothers continue to be unaccessible.

Wikipedia’s Chinese-language version is accessible but carefully filtered. Before the government’s decision to change its Internet rules, the site was only intermittently accessible. Chinese online censorship is one of the most precise in the world. The authorities use keyword censorship, which enables them to choose exactly what content can be seen online. The first keywords involving the Olympic Games were introduced in May 2007 and have been regularly updated since then.

Access to the Tor website that offers online censorship circumvention software known as proxies is blocked. The blog platforms WordPress and TypePad are also blocked. Available in more than 150 languages, WordPress is the world’s most popular blog publishing tool.

Partial list of sites that are still inaccessible

-  www.boxun.com
-  www.thechinadebate.org/
-  http://www.tiananmenmother.org/
-  www.torproject.org/
-  http://woeser.middle-way.net/
-  www.tibetpost.net
-  www.crd-net.org
-  www.rsf-chinese.org

Partial list of sites that have been unblocked

-  http://cn.reuters.com/
-  http://zh.wikipedia.org/
-  http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/
-  http://www.voanews.com/chinese/
-  http://chinese.wsj.com/gb/index.asp
-  http://www.ftchinese.com/sc/index.jsp
-  www.rsf.org

More information on unblocked websites: http://www.isaacmao.com/ and http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=28032

Reporters Without Borders’ advice to foreign journalists covering the human rights situation during the Beijing games.

To demand the release of the 50 cyber-dissidents and 29 journalists imprisoned in China, go to http://www.rsfbeijing2008.org on 8 August, the day of the Olympic Games opening ceremony, and take part in a Reporters Without Borders cyber-demonstration outside a virtual version of Beijing’s Olympic stadium.

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RFI Mandarin




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