The Guardian’s English-language website has been blocked out in mainland China since Tuesday, according to website-tracking organization greatfire.org. Why Chinese authorities would block The Guardian’s website is unclear, but China’s “Great Firewall” Internet censorship system has been known to temporarily block sites for no apparent reason.
While browser access to The Guardian’s website was still blocked as of Wednesday afternoon local time, the Guardian’s mobile and iPad apps remained uncensored. The extent of blockage is also variable, with some reporting they can access The Guardian home page, but not subpages, and others saying access is completely denied.
Reasons for blocking website unclear
Why the Chinese government would block access to The Guardian website is not clear. The Guardian has not published any controversial China-related stories in several weeks. An article published on January 6 covered the tensions in China’s ethnically-divided Xinjiang province, but that story has been extensively covered by The Guardian and other news outlets in the past without objections from Chinese authorities.
The question of whether the block is permanent or temporary also remains unanswered. The New York Times website has been blocked in China since October 2012 for its expose on the vast wealth of Chinese senior leadership. However, access to the Chinese-language versions of Reuters and the Wall Street Journal was blocked back in November of last year, but unblocked after about a month.
China Foreign Ministry statement
China’s foreign ministry refused to discuss the subject at an already scheduled press briefing on Wednesday. “This is the first time I have heard of this,” said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “I don’t understand the situation. You can inquire with China’s relevant department.”
Statement from the Guardian
The Guardian professes ignorance and dismay regarding the ongoing blockage of their website in China. A spokesperson for the Guardian News & Media said “Obviously we are dismayed that theguardian.com has been blocked in China. The reason for this is currently unclear but we are investigating the extent of the block and hope that access to our website will return to normal in the very near future.”