World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, which occurs annually on March 12th since 2008, was the occasion when Reporters Without Borders (RSF), restored access to 10 blocked news websites in efforts to defeat the censorship of 11 anti-freedom of information countries making the sites accessible to their citizens, as part of Operation Collateral Freedom.
Two sites which were banned and blocked in China can now be seen—The Tibet Post International and Mingjing News.
China has one of the world’s most sophisticated systems of Internet surveillance and censorship. Its mechanisms for filtering and monitoring online content are collectively known as the Great Firewall of China which was launched in 2003. The Great Firewall surveillance mechanisms are integrated into Chinese social networks and chat services such as Sina Weibo.
Operation Collateral Freedom was unveiled on RSF’s website. The unblocking of websites was made possible thanks to GreatFire, an NGO operated by Chinese activists that had already created accessible mirror sites of Deutsche Welle, Google and China Digital Times which otherwise would be blocked by Chinese censorship.
GreatFire co-founder Charlie Smith, wrote an article entitled, How to fight Censorship with Freedom of Speech. GreatFire’s tools and technology are freely available online for anyone to use combating online censorship.
Profiles of the two news sites now accessible in China
Tibet Post International
Founded in December 2007 by a group of Tibetan journalists in exile in Dharamsala India, theTibet Post International (TPI) is a trilingual news website (English, Tibetan and Mandarin) that aims to promote democracy and free speech within the Tibetan community and to cover human rights violations in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
With the help of its network of sources inside China, TPI covers censorship and suppression of freedom of information by the Chinese authorities and often has exclusive news about Tibetans who try to inform the outside world about their situation, and about police and army attempts to control the flow of information within the region or spy on the population.
Dhondup Wangchen and Jigme Gyatso, two Tibetan citizen-journalists who were arrested for shooting a documentary during the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, received active support from TPI from the time of their arrest in 2008 until Wangchen’s release in 2014.
The site is now available at https://tp1.global.ssl.fastly.net/
Mingjing News is an independent interactive news website which covers Chinese politics, business, social issues and history. It often has information that the Chinese government does not want disclosed and it allows its readers to post a great deal of content, including text reports, photos and video. Its revelations about the government’s secret investigation into politburo standing committee member Zhou Yongkang in 2014 were an example of its frequent sensitive reporting that triggers the regime to launch cyber-attacks on the site or further enhance censorship measures.
The site is owned by Mirror Media, a Chinese media group that was launched in Canada in the 1990s and now has bureaus in the United States, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ho Pin, the group’s founder and the site’s editor, has had a long career with Chinese media and is a well-known expert on politics in China. His books about Chinese politics, in which he criticizes political censorship, are banned in China. He publicly condemned journalist Gao Yu’s arrest when it was revealed in May 2014.
The site is now available at https://mn1.global.ssl.fastly.net/news/main.html
Keywords such as “human rights,” “Tiananmen,” and “Liu Xiaobo” that are blocked by the Communist regime’s Great Firewall can now be accessed by Chinese web surfers.