The American veteran daily newspaper The New York Times has just launched a Chinese language web site, targeting China’s “educated, affluent, global citizens.” The site will be a combination of translations from the New York Times main website as well as articles written by Chinese editors and local freelance journalists. The company has also applied an account on Sina Weibo, the most popular Twitter-like microblogging service in China. After getting socialize with Chinese internet user for less than a week, their official account on Sina Weibo was terminated for no reason, but the Times’s Chinese website remains unblocked. That may indicate the Beijing authorities sees social media as inherently more dangerous than static web content …
The Chinese version of the NYT launched on June 28. It features a mixture of translated articles and original reporting. The website’s goal is to provide “high-quality coverage of world affairs, business and culture,” for the country’s growing middle class. Its English website is the most popular American online newspaper website, receiving more than 30 million unique visitors per month. Sina Weibo did not give any explanation for the blockage, and it’s unclear if the Times broke any rules. Weibo has been known to ban accounts for posting politically unsavory news, but given that the account was newly opened, they could not have possibly posted anything controversial. It remains a mystery why the page was banned in the first place but the most probable reason is the likelihood that the New York Times would post news and stories that went against Chinese media directives.
Sina Weibo is commonly known as China’s answer to Twitter, which does not work freely in the country. The New York Times has made clear it won’t engage in the type of self-censorship employed by Sina Weibo. The company’s Sina Weibo site had picked up around 12,000 followers before it get terminated. The ban raises questions over how China authorities continues to interface with foreign media and online organizations over their activities in the country. This may see as a sign that social media has more immediate currency with the masses than more traditional media like newspapers, even when they are online newspapers. There is also a chance that the blocking may finally extend to the NYT Chinese site depending on what gets published. After all, the Chinese government doesn’t want any Internet criticism from the U.S.
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