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Heightened restrictions in China

June 3, 2014

China has boosted security in Beijing ahead of the 25th anniversary of the suppression of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. A censorship monitoring service said several Google websites had also been blocked.

China blockiert Google Dienste vor dem Tiananmen Jahrestag Firmensitz in Peking
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Police and paramilitary troops patrolled the streets and manned checkpoints in Beijing on Tuesday. The move comes as authorities mount a major campaign against dissidents, detaining several dozen activists and heightening restrictions on other artists, lawyers and government critics.

A censorship watchdog, meanwhile, said that a number of Google-related websites had been blocked. China prevents access to websites including YouTube and Twitter using a system known as the "Great Firewall," and restrictions are tightened ahead of dates the government considers sensitive.

The GreatFire.org monitor said that overseas versions of Google, which became accessible after the US company withdrew from mainland China in 2010, had now been blocked.

"The block is indiscriminate as all Google services in all countries, encrypted or not, are now blocked in China," GreatFire.org said.

Google stopped offering its search engine service in China in 2010, citing censorship problems. Users have since been redirected to a Hong Kong version of the site, which usually works but is sometimes blocked. The tech giant said in a statement Tuesday that the most-recent shutdown was not coming from their end.

Major anniversary

The increased security measures come a day before the anniversary of the 1989 government crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing, which centered on Tiananmen Square. Soldiers accompanied by tanks and armored personnel carriers fought their way into the heart of the city. As many as 1,000 people were killed in the violence, according to some estimates.

The government has never issued a complete formal accounting of the crackdown or the number of causalities. China's ruling Communist Party allows no discussion of the event.

Although authorities regularly boost security ahead of the June 4 anniversary, this year's measures have been particularly strict. Nonetheless, thousands of people marched through the streets of Beijing on Sunday in remembrance of the crackdown, and organizers say some 150,000 people are expected to take part in a city park candlelight vigil on Wednesday.

dr/msh (dpa, AFP, AP)