As pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong continue into a fifth day, the world’s attention has honed in on China.
The Chinese government is well-known for its tough censorship and heavy media intervention, and has attracted international criticism for often-unexplained decisions which restrict the freedom of expression outlined in China’s constitution. It has threatened artists, blocked popular websites and regularly bans Western films.
Although Hong Kong, an autonomous region, is usually exempt from China’s censorship laws, the recent protests have led the government to act. News has emerged that Instagram is the latest website to be blocked, and Chinese-language internet searches for ‘tear gas’ have been stalled – presumably in an attempt to quash any information from citizens which might reach the rest of China, or the outside world.
So with what many perceive to be such excessive censorship, we took a look at the major websites which are currently banned in China. Aside from these, there are many more which have received a temporary ban at some point – including Amnesty International and WordPress. If you want to check for yourself, try this website monitoring tool.
Users in China were first unable to access the site back in March 2008, during riots which took place in Tibet. It has now been inaccessible since March 2009. YouTube has formerly been banned in other countries, as well – earlier this year, Turkey’s high court ordered that a two-month ban on the site be lifted.
The social networking giant was blocked by the Chinese government in 2009 following riots in Xinjiang, a north-western autonomous region.
The latest to be banned, Instagram had previously enjoyed freedom of use in China, despite being owned by Facebook. Users created the hashtag #OccupyCentral with accompanying photos of the Hong Kong protests, leading to the crackdown.
Although blocked since June 2009, many Chinese people use Twitter regardless. It’s also blocked in North Korea and Iran, and Turkey’s current president, Tayyip Erdogan, vowed to ‘wipe out’ the site after allegations of corruption about him were posted online.
Vimeo has been blocked since 2009.
After a brief respite, Dropbox was again made inaccessible in June of this year.
Main image via Edz’sta at Flickrcc
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