Chinese government censors have apparently begun blocking reports on foreign television networks about Chinese Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo in the run-up to Friday’s award ceremony in Oslo.
Both CNN and BBC were intermittently blacked out on Friday, after access to the websites of both networks and Norwegian public broadcaster NRK was interrupted on the mainland on Thursday.
When Liu was named the peace prize winner two months ago, reports of the news were blacked out on CNN, BBC and French satellite channel TV5, while the state network China Central Television did not report on the prize.
Liu, 54, was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring Charter 08, a petition calling for political reform in one-party Communist Party-ruled China.
China, which is furious over the award, has ignored any positive take on the Nobel prize given to Liu, only reporting the news in state media accounts of Beijing’s opposition to the Nobel committee’s choice.
“CNN.com is completely blocked… Every time our reports are broadcast about the Nobel Prize winner, the television screens black out,” CNN Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz said in comments posted on the network’s website.
China has a huge online censorship system that aggressively blocks sites or snuffs out Internet content and commentary on topics considered sensitive, such as Beijing’s human rights record and criticisms of the government.
Some of China’s more than 420 million Internet users — the world’s largest online population — can jump over the so-called “Great Firewall of China” by using a virtual proxy network.
In a statement, the BBC lamented the fact that many web users in China could not access its sites.
“We can confirm that all BBC sites, not just news, are blocked to users in China. We are not alone. It is the same for many other sites belonging to international news organisations,” it said.
“We are disappointed that our audiences in China are denied access to our impartial and editorially independent journalism.”