African Press International (API)

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Aftenposten – Norwegian news online blocked by the Chinese

Posted by African Press International on September 11, 2007

Readers of Aftenposten’s web site in China have been unable to connect to the news service for the past several days. Officials at the Norwegian embassy in Beijing say they will take up the problem with local authorities if the pages remain inaccessible. Readers trying to click into Aftenposten’s site get the same message — “Problem loading page” — that comes up when trying to click into the BBC News and Wikipedia sites. Both are reportedly banned by Chinese authorities.

Aftenposten’s correspondent in China was unable to get an explanation from Chinese officials. Spokespersons in various government departments referred questions to others, and no one would explain why the pages were jammed.

‘Not surprising’
“It’s not so surprising (since) the authorities deny that they ever censor anything here,” Andrew Lih, a Beijing-based Internet researcher, told Aftenposten. Lih, who has taught new media in Hong Kong and at Columbia University in New York, is viewed as an expert on Chinese censorship of the Internet.

He doesn’t think Aftenposten’s web site is simply suffering from a technical error. “The signals aren’t even coming into China,” he said. “Only the authorities can block the signals like that.”

Lih had no explanation as to why the site was being blocked, and said it might simply have been affected by blockage of other sites. “There’s also the possibility that something on Aftenposten’s pages provoked the Chinese authorities,” Lih said. “It’s not unusual that web sites, even those written in a relatively obscure language like Norwegian, get blocked because of their content.”

Embassy monitoring
Ola Breidal, cultural attach at the Norwegian embassy in Beijing, said embassy officials were following the situation and would contact the authorities if the pages didn’t re-open. “If this proves to be more than just a technical error, we must take it up with the Chinese foreign ministry,” he said.

None of the other major Norwegian news sites has been blocked. Aftenposten’s is the only one with a news service in English as well as Norwegian.

By Kristoffer Rnneberg and Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenposteneng

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