10/16/2014 11:38 am ET Updated Oct 16, 2014

China Blocks BBC Website As Hong Kong Clashes Escalate

As clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police in Hong Kong intensify this week, the Chinese government has reportedly blocked the website of the BBC -- a move the British news outlet has called “deliberate censorship.”

According to Reuters, BBC’s English-language website was blocked by Chinese Communist Party censors Wednesday, and as of Thursday morning, remains inaccessible.

“The BBC strongly condemns any attempts to restrict free access to news and information and we are protesting to the Chinese authorities,” said Peter Horrocks, the director of the BBC World Service Group, in a statement. “This appears to be deliberate censorship.”

When asked, however, whether or not BBC’s website had been blocked, Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told Reuters the country enjoyed “full Internet freedom.”

"At the same time, the Chinese government manages the Internet in accordance with the law," he added.

Earlier this week, a Chinese official suggested that some members of the foreign media had not been reporting about the protests in Hong Kong “objectively” and called for all media to do so.

“We hope the outside world will respect … the Hong Kong [Special Administrative Region] government to deal with the situation in accordance with the law and does not send any wrong signal to this unlawful activity," said the official, per Reuters.

On Wednesday, the BBC reported that an investigation had been launched in Hong Kong into allegations that police were using excessive force against pro-democracy protesters. The news outlet said that a protester had been captured on camera being beaten and kicked by a group of officers. The BBC also noted that police had been using pepper spray and batons against protesters.

This isn't the first time that censors in China have cracked down on BBC's English-language website. The news outlet says that in 2012, the site was "disrupted" around the time of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng's escape from house arrest. The website was also blocked in 2010, in the days before and after the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.



Hong Kong Protests