Net Nanny Follies

New York Times website blocked, unblocked in China?

James Fallows has been following the accessibility of NYTimes.com in China: he concludes that blocked nationwide. Reuters has also called it a block.

On December 16, Reuters reported that 'Access to the Chinese-language versions of the BBC, Voice of America and Hong Kong media Ming Pao News and Asiaweek has been blocked since early December' (see report).

Yesterday, The New York Times itself reported that its website had been blocked, but also noted the following:

But the Chinese-language Web sites of BBC, Voice of America and Asiaweek, all of which had been blocked earlier this week, were accessible by Friday. The Web site of Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper, was blocked earlier this week and still restricted on Friday.

In Beijing today on your correspondent's ADSL connection, the BBC's Chinese language site is working but VOA Chinese, AsiaWeek and Ming Pao are not accessible without a proxy.

There has been some speculative chatter online and off that a Times article, After 30 years, economic perils on China's path, is the cause of the block.

UPDATE:

— Monday December 22 NYTimes.com seems to be functioning normally in Beijing again according to several people around the city.

More speculation about the cause of the block: That the Net Nanny had intended to target The New York Review of Books but got confused because both publications have New York in the name.

That sounds like a joke, but China's Net Nanny has always acted a little like a bipolar old crone who misplaced her meds.

Joke or not, there is a reason why the website of The New York Review of Books may have been targeted:

It recently published an English translation of 'Charter Oh Eight', a document calling for radical change in China that was signed by various intellectuals and citizens and widely circulated abroad. Very few people in the Mainland know about the document and the Internet authorities would rather it stayed that way.

UPDATE 2:

Adam Minter on Shanghai Scrap has posted his thoughts on Why China’s block of the New York Times doesn’t matter (as much as it once did).

He kindly mentions Danwei along with ESWN, China Environmental Law, Shanghaiist and China Law Blog as his primary information sources about China.

The pride of being on Minter's daily reading list is perhaps mitigated by his characterization of the Danwei comrades:

What’s curious to me - in fact, what’s astounding to me - is that the Chinese authorities either haven’t picked up on this phenomenon, or they don’t care. Instead, they are doing what Chinese officials always do: focusing their attention on the entity with the most prestige. Quite honestly, I think most Chinese officials would have a hard time believing that the rather rag-tag unwashed mass of (for the most part) young, male, poorly compensated bloggers could actually drive news coverage.

We have been taking regular showers since 2005.

UPDATE 3: And here's another thought, from Chris Devonshire-Ellis at China Briefing:

It was widely reported that the New York Times website had been blocked by in China late last week. China Briefing can reveal that the issue was a technical problem relating to problems with incoming servers located at the Beijing TV Tower, which receives and redistributes websites.

There are currently 18 Comments for New York Times website blocked, unblocked in China?.

Comments on New York Times website blocked, unblocked in China?

I can get NYT through Google Reader in Sunny Shanghai.

I can get access to the website, but I can get through that page you mentioned in your post.

One site I've noticed having suddenly to use a proxy for is openDemocracy; they've been publishing a regular column by Li Datong which I suspect may be the cause but of course you never know as the whole system is opaque.

for me the nytimes,bbc and voa are accessable,mingpao is not

I keep seeing these "NY Times blocked in China" stories, but I haven't had any difficulties accessing the New York Times in Nanjing, including the Jim Yardley article mentioned above.

Has anyone managed to collar a govt. spokesperson and ask them about this? It would be interesting to hear a response, even if it is a non-answer.

I want to read that time's article...

Big deal. Only expats and tiny fraction of Chinese netizens read them. And those who read them can get pass the fire wall with a proxy. The firewall is becoming only a formality. Everyone knows how to get pass them nowadays.

The attitude of blocking websites because you are upset they said something mean is absolutely adolescent. I hope the people in charge grow up soon and join the rest of the world at the adult table.

I live in Shenzhen and have not been able to access the NY Times' home page for 3 days now.

@abde says "only expats and tiny fraction of Chinese netizns read them."

This is accurate, but I do find it significant because it indicates that the Chinese government continues to take action to censor not just blogs and web sites of radically anti-China groups, but also mainstream foreign media that devotes quite a bit of coverage to China-related issues.

Personally, I do hope that full access will be restored. I have lived in China for 20+ years, and I find that -- "The Economist" excepted -- the "NY Times" offers me the most insight into China of any mainstream media I know of in English, French or Chinese.

It's interesting to know that NYT's most senior columnist Thomas Friedman is visiting China this week. Maybe there's a connection but who knows.

Still blocked for me in Nanjing, although no problems with the http:// workaround.

Comrades:

In re to being unwashed, ah, well, allow me to pick up the tab when we meet, and share with you my memories of 2003, the year that the district gov't shut off the water to my apartment building for the entirety of the Chinese New Year. Now, off to figure out an excuse for referring to the law bloggers as "poorly compensated." Oy.

Unblocked in Guangzhou at the time of this post, but was blocked this AM.

@Jeremy or Joel this may be asking a bit much, but can you point to the original Chinese version of the charter in question? my google fu is weak

bocaj

The Wikipedia entry on the charter has plenty of links.

Unblocked (and pretty zippy, to boot) for me in Nanjing Monday evening.

re. Minter's statement:

Quite honestly, I think most Chinese officials would have a hard time believing that the rather rag-tag unwashed mass of (for the most part) young, male, poorly compensated bloggers could actually drive news coverage.

i've seen little evidence thus far to suggest that any quorum of these poorly compensated male bloggers is "young," as that term is usually defined.

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