China Blocks YouTube Tibet Clips


Shubha Krishnappa
The Money Times
March 18, 2008

Google’s wildly popular video-sharing site YouTube on Sunday came to a standstill in China after the authorities there blocked access to YouTube within the country, in an attempt to block coverage of riots and demonstrations in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

The world’s most populous country, China reportedly has blocked domestic access to YouTube and Google News after video clips of the Lhasa demonstrations, montages of photos and scenes from Tibet-related protests abroad appeared on the Web.

This is not the first time Google has been banned in China instead in 2002 Google’s Internet search site was blocked by the Asian country.

Besides YouTube and Google News, some other online news sites have also been blocked. Internet users in China were not able to access to news sites reporting on the riots, including BBC, The Guardian, CNN, Yahoo! and Flickr.

With its latest move, China has joined the brigade of countries that have instituted either temporary or permanent blocks on the popular video sharing site YouTube. Burma, Brazil, China, Iran, Morocco, Thailand, Turkey and most recently Pakistan previously have disrupted access to the site.

Although, the Chinese government has not commented on its move to block content from the eyes of Internet users, but users trying to access YouTube got a blank screen and an error message saying the web page could not be displayed.

China-based video sharing sites such as Tudou.com, youku.com and 56.com are not hosting content on the Tibet unrest, which has already claimed many lives and appears to be spreading.

The current riots flared up after Tibetan protesters, mainly Buddhists, gathered on March 10 to commemorate the 1959 uprising against Chinese rule that resulted in a number of Buddhist clergy, including the Dalai Lama, into exile.

While China has blamed Dalai Lama, who had fled to India, for rioting in the country, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists has denied involvement in the rioting that may have left as many as 80 people dead.

In a statement issued Friday, the Dalai Lama urged Chinese leaders and Tibetans to avoid violence. He said, “I am deeply concerned over the situation that has been developing in Tibet following peaceful protests in many parts of Tibet, including Lhasa, in recent days.”

“These protests are a manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people under the present governance,” he continued.

China’s move to block access to the sites follows similar government censorship of Pakistan that last month blocked access to the popular Youtube Web site because of anti-Islamic material that have outraged many Muslims.

Most of the world’s Internet users lost access to YouTube for several hours last month after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had ordered 70 Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to YouTube.com because of the offensive material from Dutch Politician Geert Wilders’ a forthcoming film posted on the video-sharing site.
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