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A step for the better, or just a bone to the World?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on March 25, 2008

BBC News Website Reports about TibetPeople in China are able to access English language stories on the BBC News website in full, after years of strict control by Beijing.

The Communist authorities often block news sites such as the BBC in a policy dubbed the “great firewall of China”.

But BBC staff working in China now say they are able to access news stories that would have been blocked before.

However, the firewall remains in place for Chinese language services on the website and for any links in Chinese.

‘Without hindrance’

Beijing has never admitted to blocking access to BBC news stories – and there has been no official confirmation that the website has been unblocked.

But Chinese users trying to access pages on the site have almost always been redirected to an error message telling them: “The connection was reset.”

I can read the BBC website on a normal internet cafe computer
Gudrun Gallhoff
Website reader, Shandong province

It now appears that this is no longer the case, and access to the site is much easier.

Steve Herrmann, editor of the BBC News website, says this is a welcome development.

“We want BBC News to be as accessible in China as anywhere else in the world,” he said.

“We will endeavour to continue working with the Chinese authorities to improve our access in other areas.”

Technology experts say such a development would not be possible without the approval of internet service providers – which are under strict supervision by Beijing.

This is an interesting development. A welcome one, one that the world, and the Chinese have been waiting for. However, the Chinese Government is, like most Totalitarian Regimes, a fickle creature, that cannot be trusted to be consistent. The question that pops up in my mind is: Is this a way to placate the critics of Chinese Human Rights Violations in f.i Tibet? Or is it a result of IOC interventions? A preparation for the media onslaught that WILL come in August as the Summer Olympics get under way? Or is it simply a matter of conveniencing the growing number of tourists who have no other way of getting English speaking News while on vacation? After all, China does need it’s trade partners in the West In that case, are the tourists aware that only a tiny fraction of Chinese can read and understand English? Will BBC News take its responsibility and inform those tourists and trade partners that China is till holding it’s own People in Bondage?


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