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Beijing is blocking many Catholic websites

ICC Note:

The Chinese government is hiding its censorship of dissident views behind an apparent effort to “fight pornography on the internet.” Censored sites include a number of Catholic websites, AsiaNews, Reporters Without Borders, the BBC, Radio Free Asia, the Voice of America, and others.

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2/17/09 China (AsiaNews) The Chinese authorities continue to block many Catholic websites, like Radio Veritas of Asia, the website of the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference, all of the Catholic sites of Taiwan, and those of the diocese of Hong Kong. The government says that it wants to fight pornography on the internet, but it is systematically taking measures against sites with no pornographic content, which however present information not entirely in harmony with the version of the Communist Party.

The website AsiaNews has been blocked on an on-again, off-again basis for years, and was not made visible even during the Olympic grace period. The website Reporters Without Borders, very critical of China during the Olympics, was also blocked for months.

Beijing had promised to soften censorship during the Games, and allow full visibility for the main international websites. In reality, the relaxation of censorship lasted only during the competitions themselves, and only in the Olympic Village. Immediately afterward, censorship returned for foreign websites like the BBC, Radio Free Asia, the Voice of America, and others.

At the beginning of January, the state portal China.com.cn announced the blocking of “91 Web sites for pornographic and other ‘vulgar’ content.” The websites were not named, but they did include the blog site Bullog.cn, where a number of the signers of “Charter 08” posted comments. The threat of censorship also affects famous sites like Google, MSN, and China’s Baidu and Sohu.com, which have been asked to block the circulation of news that Beijing believes to be “incorrect.”

For this reason, the blogger Guo Quan from Nanjing (in the photo) was again arrested in November, under the accusation of “subversion of state power,” because he had published an open letter calling for democratic reforms. He had previously been arrested in May for criticizing the government about its aid efforts for victims of the earthquake on May 12 in Sichuan.

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