China blocks Twitter, Flickr ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

Chinese authorities have stepped up censorship ahead of the sensitive June 4 anniversary, blocking popular sites such as Twitter and directly censoring some foreign media.

Authorities cut off Twitter, Hotmail and Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, from 5pm Tuesday, the UK Telegraph reported.

Access to Flickr, Blogger, livejournal and Huffington Post has also been denied, according to Fox News.

In recent days, subscribers to The Economist magazine, the Financial Times and South China Morning Post found Tiananmen-related pages ripped out, the Telegraph said. BBC viewers found the screen turned black on any reference to the event.

Google said access to YouTube in China had been restricted for several weeks.

China has the world’s most intensive system of internet censorship. Operating in tandem with traditional state control of the media and with the police, it involves heavy filtering of internet gateways, active scrutiny by tens of thousands of cyber-police, registration of all internet users, and “self-censorship” by internet firms.

The wave of heavy censorship reflects the nervousness of the ruling Communist Party over the events in 1989, when leaders called in the army to clear demonstrators from Tiananmen Square. No official figure has been released, but as many as 2,000 civilians are reported to have died in the massacre.

Official government spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday: “The party and the government long ago reached a conclusion about the political incident that took place at the end of the 1980s and related issues.”