Websites that were previously banned in China may finally be unblocked but only within a proposed free-trade zone, which would be in an area in Shanghai. This may finally open the door of the country once again for Facebook, Twitter, and the New York Times, among others.
According to sources, Beijing has decided to unblock those online sites within the planned free trade zone as a way to make foreigners, who would come for trading, to somehow ‘feel at home.’ The move could also entice foreign traders and businessmen to visit the free trade area.
Strict Internet censorship
The Communist Party, China’s ruling party, has been noted for being aggressive and stringent when it comes to censoring the online media within the country. It has been active in deleting Web posts and in prohibiting access to identified Websites that it classifies as politically sensitive or inappropriate for its citizens.
Popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter got the axe in China in the middle of 2009. Back then, the Chinese government blamed the sites for the bloody demonstrations in the province of Xinjiang. For its part, the New York Times was banned in the country just last year after it reported that former Premier Wen Jiabao and his family had used their influence to amass fortune.
Free trade zone
China recently approved the proposed free trade zone. The area is intended to be an experimental project that would test the convertibility of the national currency and of further liberalization of prevailing interest rates. It also aims to test reforms in foreign direct investments as well as taxation. This special trade zone is reportedly set to be launched this weekend (September 29).
Meanwhile, China has also announced that it would start gathering bids from international telecommunications companies, which may want to hold licenses to provide Internet services within the free trade zone. This could be part of China’s strategy to entice foreign traders and investors.
According to reports, China Unicom, China Telecom, and China Mobile, the three major Chinese telecom firms, are not contesting the government’s decision to prefer foreign companies to provide Internet services in the project. The three firms reportedly do not want to be at odds with Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders, who have openly backed the establishment of the proposed free trade zone in Shanghai.