News / Asia

New Swath of Online Services Disrupted in China

Protesters join hands as they look at fellow protesters being dragged away by the police in Hong Kong's financial Central district after staging an overnight sit-in, July 2, 2014.
Protesters join hands as they look at fellow protesters being dragged away by the police in Hong Kong's financial Central district after staging an overnight sit-in, July 2, 2014.

Access to online services such as messaging app Line and photo-sharing site Flickr was disrupted in China this week, a step anti-censorship groups said was carried out by the government to block information about pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Reuters reporters in China were unable to send messages online, owned by South Korea's Naver Corp, and KakaoTalk, owned by South Korean firm Kakao Corp. Both companies told Reuters they did not know the cause of the disruption or when the services would return to normal.

Users and Reuters reporters also could not access Yahoo Inc's Flickr photo sharing site and Microsoft Corp's OneDrive cloud storage service.

Microsoft declined to give immediate comment. Yahoo was unavailable for immediate comment.

“This is not a technical malfunction,” said a member of China-based anti-censorship site, who goes by the pseudonym of Charlie Smith.

“I imagine these latest blocks are attributable to the Hong Kong demonstrations,” Smith said, adding that the services may have been blocked because they can be used for photo sharing.

On Tuesday, thousands of pro-democracy protesters marched in Hong Kong in one of the biggest challenges to China's Communist Party rule in more than a decade.

Some users of Chinese microblog Weibo Corp who commented on the march said on social media that their accounts had been blocked or removed.

Chinese authorities with oversight of the Internet were not immediately available for comment.

Line said that it already cooperates with China's government to censor banned phrases.

“In order for Line to advance into China, there was the need to adapt to the local environment,” a company spokeswoman said.

Since President Xi Jinping took power last year, the government has throttled online dissent and harshly punished those it views as critics of Communist Party rule and threats to its stability. Campaigns to 'clean the Internet' and get rid of rumor-mongering and pornographic material have affected both domestic and overseas Internet services.

China has also disrupted a number of Google Inc.  services in the country for the past month, including its search engine, Gmail e-mail client and its online advertising services.

The Google disruption began in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of government's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing's Tiananmen Square. 

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Comment Sorting
by: William Li from: canada
July 04, 2014 10:05 AM
Chinas priority is to develop and be stable.
the communist party did amazing job. If the control of press is necessary to keep the big country stable, then go for it.
ppl lives in democratic india, Ukraine and Iraq has much worse life than Chinese.

by: Ben
July 03, 2014 2:12 PM
Hong Kong and Tibet are the heart of free China.

by: Wangchuk from: NY
July 03, 2014 11:25 AM
The PRC does not believe in freedom of speech or freedom of the media, even though it's guaranteed under the PRC Constitution. The CCP censors the media, the internet, radio and TV in mainland China. They arrest journalists and writers who espouse views critical of the CCP. They deport foreign journalists who investigate cases of corruption or abuse of authority or violations of human rights. Censorship only brings more discontent and dissent. It's self-defeating and ultimately futile.
In Response

by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai, Vietnam
July 03, 2014 3:26 PM
It is very much the same here. We have learned everything from the PRC.

The SRV (Socialist Republic of Vietnam) is a police state, it does not believe in freedom of speech or freedom of the press. There is no privately owned media outlets in Vietnam. Several dozens of Vietnamese bloggers are currently in jail in Vietnam.

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