China responds to app ban, blocks Indian media sites

After India's ban on apps, China responds by blocking Indian newspapers, media sites
Indian citizens burning Chinese flag and photos of Xi Jinping after the recent skirmish in the border that saw 20 Indian army personnel dead. Photo: PTI

A day after the Centre banned 59 apps including TikTok and UC Browser with Chinese links citing security reasons, China has restricted the access of Indian media websites in the country.

While several Indian media websites were available through Virtual Private Network (VPN) servers before, China had recently introduced an advanced firewall which blocks even VPNs and veils the world from inside the Chinese border.

Shailesh Gupta, the President of The Indian Newspaper Society (INS), in a statement said that the action of the Chinese government to restrict access of Indian newspapers and media websites was uncalled for.

In the statement, he also urged the Indian government to expeditiously take steps to ban all kinds of access to Chinese media in India and to call off collaborations and investments made by Chinese in Indian media companies with immediate effect.

The Chinese government is notorious for its censorship laws. It censors content primarily for political reasons, but also to maintain its control over the populace, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported

According to the report, the Chinese government has asserted on several occasions that it has the legal right to control the Internet's content within their territory and that their censorship rules do not infringe on the citizen's right to free speech.

Since Xi Jinping took office as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in 2012, censorship efforts in the country have significantly been ramped up, according to a report by Washington Post.

Reporters Without Borders ranks China's press situation as "very serious", the worst ranking on their five-point scale.

In August 2012, the OpenNet Initiative classified Internet censorship in China as "pervasive" in the political and conflict/security areas and "substantial" in the social and Internet tools areas, the two most extensive classifications of the five they use.

Freedom House, a US-backed NGO, ranks the press there as "not free", the worst ranking, saying that "state control over the news media in China is achieved through a complex combination of party monitoring of news content, legal restrictions on journalists, and financial incentives for self-censorship," and increasing practice of "cyber-disappearance" of material written by or about activist bloggers.

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