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China blocks public access to Taiwan's blog portal sites

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Chinese government has barred its citizens from accessing Taiwan-based blog portal sites since the second half of last year, executives for local blog portal sites said yesterday.

Beginning last November, Beijing has begun to block access to the portal Pixnet and blog sites of Yahoo, Yam, and other major portals, said Ryan Lee, managing director of Pixnet Digital Media Corp.

Many of the bloggers on Pixnet believe that Beijing's move is closely related to Taiwan's March 22 presidential elections in which Taiwan's ties with China is a hot topic of debate, Lee noted.

China imposes a stringent control on certain phrases in the media, including Taiwan independence.

However, most of Taiwan's blogs rarely focus on politics, but rather talk about entertainment, sports, travel, food, and other subjects, Lee said.

Pixnet has 800,000 members, and approximately 33 percent of them are bloggers living in Hong Kong, China, and other places outside Taiwan, according to Lee.

For her part, Ruu Wu, public relations supervisor of Yahoo-Kimo Inc., said that China has also cut access to her company's blog portal site, Wretch, since last August.

China also blocks access to news Web sites and blog sites of other countries, she said, adding that despite the blockage, Chinese bloggers are still able to bypass the firewalls set by the Chinese government and access Wretch.

According to a news report of the Chinese-language Liberty Taimes based in Taipei, Beijing has sealed off access to Yam's blog site for over one year.

A spokesman for Yam said that the Chinese government blocks access to all the news Web sites or any Web sites that contain news reports as part of its efforts to tighten its grip on the freedom of speech.

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