China blocks Wall Street Journal, Reuters news websites

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The Chinese variant of the Reuters news website.

Global variants of the Wall Street Journal and Reuters websites have been blocked for internet users in China, according to several internet monitoring agencies.

Charlie Smith with the online service GreatFire.org emailed The Desk with a tip that the websites had been inaccessible for internet users in China since Friday.

Smith wrote that the block appeared to stem from a New York Times story detailing the employment of Lily Chang, the daughter of former Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao, by the global financial giant JP Morgan Chase.

Reuters reported on the New York Times story in an article published last week. Smith concludes that the Reuters report prompted the government to block the site.

It is not clear why the Wall Street Journal website was also blocked.

GreatFire.org has since launched an unauthorized “mirrored” version of the Reuters China website that is accessible to internet users in China without any special bypassing techniques. The site was launched “without seeking the approval of Reuters ahead of time” and will be removed “if Reuters asks us to remove the website.”

Global news organizations operating within China have found it difficult to objectively report news on government and business figures over the past several months.

Last year, the government refused to renew the visa of Al Jazeera English journalist Melissa Chan. When Chan was expelled from the country for unknown reasons, the channel decided to shut down its Beijing bureau.

Last week, Reuters journalist Paul Mooney was denied a work visa by the government without reason. Mooney, who operated from Beijing for 18 years, was to be reassigned to a different part of the company, Reuters spokesperson Barbara Burg told the New York Times.

Over the weekend, news broke that Bloomberg had suspended a prize-winning journalist on suspicion he leaked information to other news organizations concerning Bloomberg’s decision to withhold an investigative piece focused on a wealthy Chinese man and family members of senior Community party members.

The Financial Times reported Michael Forsythe had been escorted out of Bloomberg’s Hong Kong bureau. The company is said to have withheld the report on fears that it could impact Bloomberg’s financial operations in China.