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The Great Firewall

by AFP

File photo. Frederic J. Brown—AFP

Press watchdog says China blocks almost a quarter of all accredited foreign news sites

China’s “Great Firewall” system of online censorship blocks domestic access to nearly a quarter of the foreign news organizations accredited to report in the country, a press watchdog said on Tuesday.

Beijing bars its citizens from accessing the publicly available websites of 23 percent of 215 international news organizations that have journalists based in China, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said in a statement.

Thirty-one percent of news organizations that publish primarily in English, the most widely spoken foreign language in China, are blocked, the FCCC said in a statement. The numbers were determined via an analysis by the press club and GreatFire.org, which tracks Chinese online censorship.

The statement was released on the final day of the China-organized sixth annual World Internet Conference in the eastern city of Wuzhen, which the ruling Communist Party uses to further its argument that governments should be able to police their own online turf. “China’s internet controls have been used to block a growing list of global news sources,” the FCCC said. “Those digital blocks run counter to the ethos of internet openness, and prevent Chinese access to valuable sources of independent reporting on international matters, as well as China’s own domestic affairs.”

The blocked sites include the BBC, Bloomberg, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yomiuri Shimbun and many others, it said.

The FCCC said according to the government 536 foreign journalists have accreditation to report in China.

The so-called “Great Firewall” is considered the world’s biggest and most sophisticated censorship apparatus. It blocks a slew of foreign sites including Facebook and Twitter, and Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010, refusing Beijing’s requirement to censor search results.

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