Australia’s ABC has complained about the blocking of its website in China. Access to the website and mobile applications of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation have been cut off in China for ten days, said the ABC’s board on 3 September.
The Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, which is directly controlled by Chinese President Xi Jinping, confirmed that it has classified ABC as a media “damaging [China’s] national pride” that should be banned.
ABC’s critical coverage of China, especially its publication of a 2017 report denouncing the growing influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Australia, appears to have triggered Beijing’s recent shutdown of the Australian broadcaster’s service.
According to the ABC, officials at two separate Chinese government departments have declined to specify how the ABC allegedly violated Chinese laws or cite any content as an example. Access to other Australian news websites inside China, including those of Fairfax, News Limited and SBS, appears not to have been affected.
In a statement, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) denounced China’s increasing censorship of foreign media. “Given the Chinese government’s stranglehold on the media, foreign websites such as ABC are the only platforms providing independent information to Chinese citizens,” said Cedric Alviani, director of the RSF East Asia bureau. “By adding ABC to its blacklist, which already counts more than 8,000 domain names, Beijing again demonstrates its commitment to keep Chinese citizens in ignorance.”
According to official sources, over two million people are involved in China’s censorship and internet surveillance effort. The “Great Firewall of China” keeps 800 million Chinese netizens away from a wide range of foreign news websites, including Wikipedia, Radio Free Asia, the New York Times, BBC and Bloomberg News.
China is towards the bottom of the 2018 RSF World Press Freedom Index, ranking at 176 out of 180 countries.