Clampdown rumoured as China "Twitter" sites down

Chinese social networking websites that provide Twitter-like services have suddenly reverted to testing mode and access has been spotty amid reports of a government clampdown.

Although Twitter has been banned for more than a year in China, Chinese Internet companies have been quick to fill the void, providing microblogging services that allow users to post frequent updates and follow other posters.



On Wednesday, NetEase.com's microblog (t.163.com) was inaccessible. A notice said the site had been down since 7 p.m. on Tuesday and was under maintenance.



Sohu.com Inc's microblog (t.sohu.com) was also shut down for more than a day earlier in the week and all Chinese "twitters" now display the notice "in testing mode."



Company sources told Reuters that the developments were the result of tightened government controls over the new services.



"Nobody will publicly announce the reason, but it is as obvious as a fly on a bald head," one source said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.



The Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post cited unnamed "industry sources" as saying that the websites were under pressure from Chinese censors.



News content on Chinese Internet websites is under intense government censorship, and online news editors with major Internet portals often receive dictats from the government on what can and cannot be published. But the new microblogs of Internet portals, with less government censorship, have proved to be freer for carrying news and comments.



Nevertheless, in July 2009 Fanfou.com, a budding replica of Twitter, was shut down by the government amid a major campaign to tighten Internet controls.



Beijing has been trying to tighten controls on the country's booming Internet industry, the world's largest by users, since the second half of last year, introducing new regulations concerning online gaming, online mapping and e-commerce.



Sina Corp, China's largest Internet portal, launched a microblog in August last year. Yet, earlier this week, the company put an "in testing mode" notice on the website.



"We are constantly upgrading the site. Even though we launched in August last year it is still in testing mode," said Sina spokesman Liu Qi.



Sina and NetEase both denied government intervention and said the notices and sporadic site access were due to upgrading of features.



"NetEase's micro-blog is very popular and growing fast, so we had to perform maintenance to upgrade features," said NetEase spokesman Liu Youcai.



Sohu could not be reached for comment.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician / Helpdesk - 2nd / 3rd Line

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: Application Developer

    £20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in the centre of Glasgow,...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor