BBC Chinese Website Unblocked; Jaws Drop

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It’s only been a month since BBC’s English-language news website was unblocked by Net Nanny for the first time in the three years that I’ve been in China with regular web access.

And now today, more astonishingly, the BBC’s Chinese language news site has also been unblocked, quite possibly for the first time in the history of the Interwebs.

Here are the two front pages, as I wrote this now on the evening of July 31st. Somewhat amusingly, the front page of the English section blares that the BBC’s Chinese site is now unblocked within China, although that same ‘shock’ news is not featured in the BBC Chinese part:

This is clearly related to the upcoming Olympics – just 8 more days, folks – and the promised “openness to media” that is being touted by Liu Binjie, minister of the General Administration of Press and Publication.

Journalists who have newly arrived in Beijing to cover the Games, however, are not finding the internet in China to be entirely open, however, as some have noted that sites such as Amnesty International are not available via the domestic intertubes.

Indeed, earlier today the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged rather sheepishly that “there will be limitations on website access during Games time,” according to the IOC press chief.

So, despite the insistance of Minister Liu that the “open door to the foreign media will not close after the Games,” (in his own words), it seems somewhat unlikely that it will actually come to pass, just as I doubt that the BBC’s Chinese news site will still be accessible here in – oooh – about 3 or 4 weeks time.

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