China blocks sites prior to 20th anniversary of Tiananmen

Reports say China is blocking popular information- and video-sharing sites in the days leading up to the anniversary of the prodemocracy protests and subsequent massacre.

Almost 20 years ago exactly, on June 4, 1989, the Chinese military opened fire on prodemocracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, resulting in the loss of hundreds--if not thousands--of innocent lives. Most of the slain were students. However, the Chinese government would like the younger generations in China and the rest of the world to know very little about that.

The most iconic image from the Tiananmen Square protest and subsequent massacre. Wikipedia

Many media reports say that in the recent days leading up to the anniversary, China has been blocking Web sites like Twitter, Yahoo's Flickr, YouTube, Microsoft Hotmail, Live.com, Wordpress, Blogger, and many other social-networking sites and news outlets in an effort to keep the event an internal issue. Several of my friends in China have confirmed the inaccessibility of these sites. China currently has the most Internet users in the world.

According to the San Fransisco Chronicle, Microsoft's new search engine Bing is also blocked. In response to this, Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman, said his company "is committed to helping advance the free flow of information, and is committed to encouraging transparency, due process and rule of law when it comes to Internet governance."

The Associated Press reported that other Chinese blogs and file-sharing sites are also disabled. VeryCD, a popular Chinese video-sharing portal, has put a note on its site saying it will be offline until Saturday for "maintenance reasons." The popular miniblogging site Fanfou has done the same thing.

Foreign journalists are currently barred from entering Tiananmen Square and have not been given any specific reason as to why.

On June 4, 1989, student protesters gathered at Tiananmen Square in the capital city of China and called for a democratic system and clean government. Troops moved in with tanks and were ordered to open fire at the crowd. Unofficial figures indicate that somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people were killed.

Since then, the Chinese government has carefully guarded information on the event--and even refused an independent investigation into the matter--which is believed by many to be one of the bloodiest examples of human rights suppression in the 20th century.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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