Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today deplored as a blow to free expression a decision by the Chinese authorities to block access to the organisation’s website and called for the immediate lifting of the ban, which may have been imposed because of a press release on the site about the extended imprisonment of cyber-dissident Liu Di. Internet users reported on 14 April that the site, www.rsf.org, was inaccessible in China.
The Chinese authorities systematically block access to websites containing "dangerous or subversive" material. A survey done by Harvard University’s Berkam Center between last May and November showed that more than 50,000 of 204,000 sites sought through the Google and Yahoo! were inaccessible at least once from at least one place inside China.
Apart from openly pornographic sites, the main ones blocked were those about Tibet, Taiwan and democracy. More than 60 per cent of the Tibet sites and more than 47 per cent of the Taiwan sites listed by Google were blocked.
Last October, the following websites were still inaccessible in China: hrichina.org (Human Rights Watch in China), hrw.org (Human Rights Watch), amnesty.org, amnesty.org.uk, amnestyusa.org (Amnesty International), freetibet.org (the organisation Freetibet), tibet.com (the Tibetan government in exile), cnn.com (the US TV network CNN), bbc.co.uk (the BBC), washingtonpost.com (the US daily the Washington Post), 6-4tianwang.com (the site of cyber-dissident Huang Qi) and bignews.com (the dissident online paper VIP Reference).