BEIJING – In a sure sign that China is gearing up for a major censorship battle with Western media agencies in the lead up to Friday’s presentation of the Noble Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, major foreign news websites were blocked in China Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, CNN’s website was also blocked, but as of 9 a.m. ET, the site was loading smoothly in China.
In recent years, China has proved willing to block foreign websites it deems critical of the government or a potential source of political unrest.
During the Tibetan riots of 2008 and the Uighur unrest in Xinjiang last year, popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were blocked after censors became concerned that protest organizers were using the sites to communicate and disseminate anti-government messages.
Similarly, YouTube has remained blocked since 2009.
Even popular movie website, IMDB was blocked earlier this year by censors after it provided details about a documentary on the Dalai Lama that was critical of China’s government.
Meanwhile on TV throughout the week, news broadcasts like BBC, CNN and French satellite channel TV5 have all been regularly blacked out when stories on Liu Xiaobo and the Nobel Prize come up.
State television broadcaster, CCTV, has not been reporting on the Nobel Prize presentation.