It seems yesterday’s dispatch of sites being spontaneously unblocked was part of a larger move. Today, Hu Jintao held a rare pow-wow of media outlets in the wake of Internet restrictions being eased. From the WSJ:
The 66-year-old Mr. Hu’s appearance before foreign reporters Friday was a rare move into the public spotlight for a leader who has long shunned it. Mr. Hu has never given a news conference in China or abroad.
From the BBC:
Hosting the Games showed China’s desire for peaceful global ties, he said.
His comments came amid apparent concessions by Beijing in a row over internet access for journalists.
More sites which had been blocked in Olympic media centres – such as that of rights group Amnesty International – were accessible on Friday, journalists said.
Here’s a rather representative list of sites that are now available in China, which include newspaper, magazine and NGO web sites previously hard blocked. This is taken from some that were sent on a recent Great Firewall list, and some I’ve added.
- è¥¿æ–¹åª’ä½“ï¼š(Western media)
- è·¯é€ç¤¾ http://cn.reuters.com/
- ç»´åŸºç™¾ç§‘ http://zh.wikipedia.org/
- è‡ªç”±äºšæ´²ç”µå° http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/
- ç¾Žå›½ä¹‹éŸ³ http://www.voanews.com/chinese/
- åŽå°”è¡—æ—¥æŠ¥ http://chinese.wsj.com/gb/index.asp
- é‡‘èžæ—¶æŠ¥ä¸æ–‡ http://www.ftchinese.com/sc/index.jsp
- é¦™æ¸¯åª’ä½“ï¼š(Hong Kong media)
- æ˜ŽæŠ¥æ–°é—»ç½‘ http://www.mingpaonews.com/
- æ˜ŽæŠ¥æœˆåˆŠ http://www.mingpaomonthly.com/cfm/main.cfm
- äºšæ´²æ—¶æŠ¥ http://www.atchinese.com/
- äºšæ´²å‘¨åˆŠ http://www.yzzk.com/cfm/main.cfm
- å—åŽæ—©æŠ¥ http://www.scmp.com/portal/site/SCMP/
- å—åŽæ—©æŠ¥ä¸æ–‡ http://olympics.scmp.com/GCO_Simpchi_Index.aspx
- è‹¹æžœæ—¥æŠ¥ http://www1.appledaily.atnext.com/template/apple/sec_main.cfm?
- å°æ¹¾åª’ä½“ï¼š(Taiwan media)
- è”åˆæ–°é—»ç½‘ http://udn.com/NEWS/main.html
- ä¸å›½æ—¶æŠ¥ http://news.chinatimes.com/mainpage.htm
- è‡ªç”±æ—¶æŠ¥ http://www.libertytimes.com.tw/index
This is actually quite remarkable for folks living in China. The “Big Three” NGOs that have been unrelenting critics of China have been reliably blocked for years. YZZK (Yazhou Zhoukan) and Apple Daily both in Hong Kong, have done some of the most critical journalism regarding China.
RSF, acknowledging the good news, doesn’t take much time to celebrate and continues to push hard.
â€œThis partial lifting of censorship shows that the Chinese government is not completely insensitive to pressure. If the entire world had been pressuring China since 2001, even before these games were assigned to Beijing, the situation might have been different today. And perhaps imprisoned journalists would have been freed before the opening ceremony.
Let’s be clear though: these unblocked sites are still subject to the sophisticated keyword blocking system of the GFW, which looks at both URLs and the body of web sites. The sites above are no longer blocked, as a rule, but the content on the site might still trigger a block. On the plus side, it seems the keyword filtering of the GFW seems to be less sensitive than normal, but the big taboo subjects are still blocked quickly.
NBC Nightly News did a piece on the blocking yesterday (July 31). I was amused when Danwei‘s Jeremy Goldkorn was on camera demonstrating how to use a virtual private network and noted that living with the net nanny wasn’t that big a deal.
Goldkorn: “I don’t see that it’s really going to impede anybody’s work.”
NBC: “Do you think the foreign media is just whining a little bit?”
Goldkorn: “Yeah. Absolutely they’re whining.”
I suppose one could make the argument that leaving the restricted GFW “harmonized” Internet as-is would have given foreign journalists a real taste of what China’s Internet users deal with every day. Now, they get a freed-up, “special” Internet to do their job and this issue goes away for the next three weeks. The question is, after the party’s over, will any of the sites above stay unblocked.