The Chinese government has begun blocking access to certain websites that it had previously allowed Internet users to access, reports the New York Times.
Liu Jianchao, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, said at his twice-weekly news conference on Tuesday in Beijing that the Chinese government had a right to censor Web sites that violated the country's laws. He added that "some Web sites," which he did not identify, had violated China's law against secession by suggesting that there were two Chinas -- a reference to the Beijing government's longstanding position that mainland China and Taiwan form a single China.
"I hope that the Web sites in question will be able to self-regulate, and not do things that will violate Chinese law, and for the sake of both sides, develop conditions for Web site cooperation," Mr. Liu said, according to a transcript posted on the Foreign Ministry's Web site.
The New York Times also reports that the government may be doing this out of fear of recession-driven social unrest.
Chinese officials have followed a pattern over the years of censoring the Internet more tightly at times of economic or political stress. This fall the economy has slowed sharply, and Chinese leaders have begun cautioning about potential risks to social stability from high unemployment.
BBC reports that their Chinese website along with that of Voice of America have been blocked.
The sites had been unblocked after journalists attending the Beijing Olympics complained that the government was censoring sites deemed sensitive.
The BBC expressed disappointment at the apparent reinstatement of the ban.
But a Chinese government spokesman told journalists that some sites contained content that violated Chinese law.
Among the other sites blocked are Asiaweek, Reporters Without Borders and some Hong Kong and Taiwan sites.
Ironically, Thursday is the 30th Anniversary of China's reform and opening up period, as reported in Xinhua.
The third plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the CPC was opened on Dec. 18, 1978, which signaled the country's mission shift from the social class struggle to economic construction, as well as a starting point for the reform and opening-up.
Having gone through a series of significant events including snow disasters, the Sichuan earthquake, and the Beijing Olympics in 2008, China will now celebrate the 30th anniversary of reform and opening-up.
Reform has remained a key topic for all domestic media, and galas to celebrate reform and opening-up were held around the country in the past weeks.