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China Blocks Economist and Time Websites, Apparently Over Xi Jinping Articles

The Economist and Time have joined the list of foreign news websites currently blocked in mainland China. The sites appear to have been censored as a result of recently published cover articles in the magazines critical of the growing power of China's president, Xi Jinping.

According to, a website that tracks Internet and social media censorship in China, The Economist's website and its cover article have been completely censored since April 2. The Economist's mobile app, through which users can download the magazine and read its online articles, has also been censored.

Several public accounts managed by The Economist on WeChat, a popular Chinese social media app, have also been suspended. However, the websites of the publication's umbrella company, The Economist Group, and the group's consulting arm, The Economist Intelligence Unit, have not been blocked. also shows that those searching for the Time website or the magazine's cover article have experienced frequent connection resets since April 5. China's system of Internet controls, known as the Great Firewall, resets the connections of web requests that contain certain censored keywords. Time's mobile app is still functioning.

The two magazines published cover articles online this week examining the tightening control Mr. Xi has exerted over Chinese politics and the cult of personality he has built around himself.

"He has retreated into the world of Mao: personality cults, plaudits to the state sector and diatribes against foreigners supposedly intent on destroying China," Hannah Beech of Time wrote.

Since taking office in 2013, Mr. Xi has cracked down on both Chinese and foreign news media and has embarked on a wide-ranging anticorruption campaign that has resulted in the arrests of thousands of government officials. Both cover articles criticize Mr. Xi's strongman approach to governance.

"Mr. Xi has acquired more power than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong," The Economist article states. "It was supposed to let him get things done. What is going wrong?"

John Parker, the Beijing bureau chief of The Economist, said the publication received no warning "that he was aware of" about the website's being blocked. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did contact the publication regarding its cover article but did not discuss blocking the website, he said.

"They expressed their displeasure about the article in question and wanted me to forward their displeasure to the editors in London, which I did," Mr. Parker said.

In 2001, Time was banned from Chinese newsstands after writing a cover article about Falun Gong, a group outlawed by the Chinese government. That ban was lifted only years later. A Time representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Economist has had individual articles blocked in mainland China before, including an August 2015 article about how the Chinese government had reframed historical narratives to justify Mr. Xi's military ambitions. This is the first time its app has been blocked.

The Chinese government often blocks access to articles or entire websites that contain content it deems unfavorable. Most recently, all mentions of Panama and Panama Papers were blocked on Chinese social media after files leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca detailing the ownership of offshore shell companies, several of them linked to relatives of high-level Chinese leaders, were published. Chinese editors were instructed to remove any mention of the Panama Papers from their sites.

The New York Times's English- and Chinese-language sites have been blocked since October 2012, after the newspaper published an exposé on the hidden wealth of former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. How long The Economist and Time websites will remain blocked is unclear.

[Source: By Emily Feng, The New York Times, 08Apr16]

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small logoThis document has been published on 11Apr16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.