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Germany

China Censors DW-WORLD

Deutsche Welle has confirmed reports that the DW Internet site is being blocked. A spokesman said the web site could not be accessed from at least eight cities.

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Not currently available in China

According to the organisation Reporters Without Borders, the blockade may have coincided with the beginning of the People's Congress in Beijing earlier this month. Reporters Without Borders reported the shut-down, saying that none of Deutsche Welle's Internet pages nor the Chinese version of The Wall Street J ournal could be accessed from inside China. Anyone trying to open the Web sites is redirected to a Chinese search engine, the organization reported.

The current shut-down comes during the annual session of the People's National Congress and ahead of Taiwanese presidential elections with a landmark referendum asking voters if Taiwan should acquire more advanced anti-missile weapons, and if they should open talks with China. The elections will take place on March 20. DW-WORLD has been reporting on both events.

In 2001 Deutsche Welle's Web site had been blocked for four months for political reasons.

China, which has about 80 million Internet users, regularly censors Web sites, including the Reporters Without Borders site and the pages of Amnesty International. About 60 so-called cyber dissidents are imprisoned in China.

Last December, the Chinese government released three cyber dissidents, including 23-year-old student Liu Di, who became known under her chat-room nickname, "stainless-steel mouse." Liu had been jailed for a year for criticizing the government's restrictions on Internet use.

Her release coincided with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's visit to China. Wen Jiabao, Schröder's Chinese counterpart, is expected to visit Germany in May.

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