Last September I posted an item on my blog pondering why access to my blog had been blocked in China - because I didn’t recall saying anything about China that was remotely political or subversive. The answer was on the front page of today’s Herald Tribune which carried a story about the ‘Great Firewall of China’ – the nickname given to China’s pervasive online censorship system.

Apparently the Chinese government has blocked access to all Blogspot pages – along with Wikipedia, YouTube and Flickr.

The story said that most people in China don’t realise that these mostly innocuous sites have been blocked – because they have never seen them. But there is a growing number that find out when they travel and realise that the Chinese Internet universe is much smaller than the rest of the world.

One Chinese website operator was quoted in the story as saying: “Many people don’t know that 300 years after Emperor Kangzi ordered an end to construction of the Great Wall, our great republic has built an invisible great wall.”

It would be understandable if China blocked access to pornographic websites (although hardly much point given the proliferation of pornographic DVDs that you can buy on almost any street corner in China) but I wonder what they hope to achieve by blocking access to websites like Wikipedia and Flickr?

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