China blocks BBC English-language website while insisting citizens have 'full internet freedom' as Hong Kong tensions rise

The BBC's website has been blocked for the first time since April 2012

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The Independent Online

China has stated that its citizens still have "full internet freedom" despite the BBC complaining that its English-language website has been blocked in the country as tensions rise in Hong Kong.

The English-language version of the BBC website was blocked by Communist Party censors as protestors and police continued to clash in Hong Kong.

The BBC's Global News director Peter Horricks called the move by Chinese authorities as "deliberate censorship" and said that the BBC was complaining to officials.

The BBC added that since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the corporation's English-language website has been generally available, while other services, such as its Chinese-language news website, had been largely blocked since their inception.

Horrocks said: "The BBC provides impartial, trusted news to millions of people around the world, and attempts to censor our news services show just how important it is to get our accurate information to them.

"The BBC strongly condemns any attempts to restrict free access to news and information and we are protesting to the Chinese authorities. This appears to be deliberate censorship."

The block comes after video footage showing the apparent beating of a defenceless protester outside a government building in Hong Kong led human rights activists, politicians and movement leaders to condemn the police’s most brutal crackdown for a week.

At least 45 people were arrested on Wednesday as officers resorted to brute force to clear a main road in the Chinese-run city, with barricades, banners and tents torn down and removed.

The BBC said that the last time its English-language website was disrupted was back in April 2012, during coverage of Chen Guangcheng's escape from house arrest.