01/25/2006, 00.00
China
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China : magazine linked to state daily censured

The authorities suspend the publication of Bingdiam Weekly.  Also blocked, the magazines internet site and blogs.   Meanwhile Google agrees to  censure its results in China.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agency) – Chinese authorities censured the influential Bingdian Weekly yesterday.  The Bingdian Weekly appeared in the China Youth Daily's Wednesday edition and was known for its in-depth stories and insightful opinions for the past 11 years.  Sources said it "was officially closed down for improvement" after several controversial articles it published generated widespread public debate.

The probable cause of the weekly's demise is most an article which appeared two weeks ago that was critical of the official textbook interpretation of the Boxer Rebellion.

Editor Li Datong said last week he suspected authorities would take revenge, but did not know how or when it would happen. A source said Communist Youth League officials were called to a special meeting yesterday afternoon to be informed of the closure. All mainland media and websites were told yesterday afternoon not to release the news and Mr Li was not formally told of the decision to shut down the section until 8pm.

"I cannot talk to you, I am being informed of the decision right now," Li said last night. In a short message on his weblog, he said: "My colleagues and I have just finished the dummy for tomorrow's edition, but it seems it cannot be published any more. It's quietest in the centre of a typhoon. I am waiting for an official notice now".  The blog was later erased, along with Bingdian's website.

Problems over Bingdian first arose in August, when Mr Li wrote an open letter criticising the way China Youth Daily incorporated contributions to propaganda in its assessment of staff and their bonus payments.

The Bingdiam Weekly case is the latest attempt by the government to limit press freedom.  Yet the case of the Google research engine is particular, as it has agreed to self censure in exchange for entrance into the Chinese market. The California-based company planned to roll out a new version of its search engine bearing China's Web suffix ".cn", on Wednesday. A Chinese-language version of Google's search engine has previously been available through the company's dot-com address in the United States. By creating a unique address for China, Google hopes to make its search engine more widely available and easier to use in the world's most populous country, but these limitations frustrate many Chinese, creating problems for businesses, given they may no longer take advantage of the web's potential.

"This is a real shame," said Julien Pain, head of Reporters with Borders' Internet desk. "When a search engine collaborates with the government like this, it makes it much easier for the Chinese government to control what is being said on the Internet."

Neither Google's e-mail nor blogging services will be offered in China because the company does not want to risk being ordered by the government to turn over anyone's personal information.

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