Prior to the Olympics this summer, there was a furor when foreign journalists complained that the Chinese government was blocking ‘sensitive’ sites. In the spirit of the games, those were opened up. But now, after the outsiders have long gone, the government has re-blocked several of those sites, including the BBC Chinese site and Voice of America in Chinese, the BBC reports.
According to a Chinese government spokesman, the sites – which also include Asiaweek, Reporters Without Borders and some Hong Kong and Taiwanese sites – include content that violates Chinese law. But spokesman Liu Jianchao would not confirm that the government was behind the censorship.
"For instance, if a website refers to ‘two Chinas’ or refers to mainland China and Taiwan as two independent regions, we believe that violates China’s anti-secession law, as well as other laws," he said, urging the sites to "comply with China’s concerns and not do things contrary to Chinese law."
The BBC said it was disappointed by the new move, stating the with the exception of the few recent months, its Chinese language site has been blocked since it was introduced almost 10 years ago. It said:
"It has been a source of great regret that audiences in China are unable to access BBCChinese.com as the rest of the world can."
The coming year might be one reason for the ban, since it could be a magnet for Chinese protest, marking 50 years since China took control of Tibet and 20 years since the Tiananmen Square protests.