Reporters Without Borders has condemned growing censorship of the Internet in China as access has been blocked to Chinese versions of the Wall Street Journal and Deutsche Welle sites since the opening of the annual People’s National Congress on 5 March.
Earlier, on 27 February a discussion forum on Inner Mongolia was closed down arbitrarily.
"The Beijing authorities have reaffirmed a desire for liberalisation during the People’s National Congress. Unfortunately this openness is confined to the economic field, because as far as free expression is concerned the government seems to be getting even tougher," said the international press freedom organisation.
"We note that the Chinese leadership is tightening the screw on the Internet even further by attacking the major Western media," it added.
The Chinese sites of the Wall Street Journal and Deutsche Welle have been made inaccessible through their IP address (address that identifies an Internet site). The navigation software, failing to access the required web page, automatically redirects the user to a Chinese search engine. Both these online publications have been blocked in the past, but only temporarily.
A student living in China ran the Nutuge discussion forum, that was closed in February. It mainly posted information about Mongolian culture and history. It did not deal with "sensitive" political and religious matters. Set up in 2002, it had become one of the most popular sites in Inner Mongolia.
The discussion forum was closed by its host, on the demand of the public security ministry, following the posting of a message that was judged "illegal". The political situation of Inner Mongolia, occupied by China since 1947, is comparable to that of Tibet.
Reporters Without Borders spoke out against growing practice of filtering of discussion forums on the eve of the congress on 26 February. More details
The Chinese authorities possess advanced technology that allows them to monitor Internet surfers in real time, to intercept their emails and to filter online news. Several hundred thousand sites - including that of Reporters Without Borders - are blocked inside the country.
With 60 people behind bars, China is the world’s largest prison for cyberdissidents.
Wall Street Journal, Chinese version
Deutsche Well, Chinese version
The Mongolian forum