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The Local falls foul of Great Firewall of China

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 20 Aug 2009, 18:28

Published: 20 Aug 2009 18:28 GMT+02:00

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It has been brought to the knowledge of The Local that the website has been blocked and it is thought that a news article entitled "Sweden expels Chinese diplomat" may be to blame for the cold-shoulder treatment.

A reader living in China at the time said the article could not be read in Shanghai after its publication on June 22nd 2009. The article details allegations that a Chinese diplomat was expelled for spying on political refugees living in Sweden.

In a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion, the Chinese authorities shortly thereafter ordered a Swedish diplomat back to Stockholm.

A review of other Swedish news websites on Thursday has shown that The Local appears to currently be alone in incurring the wrath of the "Golden Shield Project", sometimes given the nickname the "Great Firewall of China", which was founded in 2003 with the task of blocking offending websites.

China's internet controls have long been a source of discomfort for the media. Voice of America and the Chinese version of the BBC have both habitually spent periods in Chinese internet quarantine, along with many blogging and social networking sites.

High-profile Swedish libertarian blogger Johan Norberg is among those that have spent periods out in the cold.

"I write quite a lot about Tiananmen Square and so on. I never actually had it confirmed but I presume that it perhaps had to do with that."

"I have been to China and have even met a person who works with internet control there. As I understand it they have a Swedish staff which keeps a check on these things," Norberg told The Local on Thursday.

The Local has learned that its news is currently only accessible to Chinese internet users prepared to run the gauntlet of police surveillance software and the watchful eye of security staff at internet cafés, and apply their technological creativity to skirt the "great firewall".

Story continues below…

The China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre (CIIRC) is the Chinese government organ which administers matters of internet security. It was founded in June 2004 and is supported by a raft of government ministries.

"CIIRC is mainly focused on contents harmful to the healthy growth of minors, such as obscenity and pornography, gambling, violence, terror, criminal abetting, and contents that spread ethnic hatred, libelling and insulting, violating the others' rights, and violating intellectual property rights," the centre's website explains.

The Local made attempts to contact the Chinese embassy in Stockholm for clarification of the situation but was unsuccessful.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:22 August 20, 2009 by Querist
So. A Swedish newspaper is complaining about censorship from China.

That's a laugh!

The Swedish Newsmedia is the 'poster child' for censorship. Swedish journalists are notorious for purposely omitting FACTS from news articles.

Welcome to Censorship 101.

18:30 August 20, 2009 by GefleFrequentFlyer
As odd as it sounds, the quality of reporting coming out of the Chinese Communist filter is probably better than that of which comes out of the warped mouth peices of the Expressen/Afton/SVT.
18:37 August 20, 2009 by Nika-NM
I'd like to know what foul did they find in here? Any threat of ''contamination'' of the Chinese public's perspective? That's just communism bloated superstition-like demeanour from their side.
19:20 August 20, 2009 by Gwrhyr
Sadly, Querist and GefleFrequentFlyer are correct... all you have to do is be interested in open debate on a subject that goes against the Swedish censors and you realize this quickly. I'm interested in drug policy and pay close attention to

Swedish articles about it. Most are incredibly biased, some blatantly lie about drug policy research findings.

Swedish singer Lykke Li had part of an interview with SVT removed because she talked about use of ecstasy in a postiive light - SVT claimed that it can only portray illegal drugs in a negative light. It goes against the official view that certain substances can never be used responsibly.
21:20 August 20, 2009 by Greg in Canada
"Chinese readers are unable to access "Sweden's News in English" as the site has been banned in the Asian country."

What's up? The Chinese government doesn't like my posts. :-(
23:38 August 20, 2009 by mac_007
why nothing worried about the swedish news , they have only news like sexual harresment and murders.

I never read nothing importent news which is help full to the people as well country
01:02 August 21, 2009 by here for the summer
You guys complaining about Swedish censorship while posting about Swedish censorship. Get real. China is a dictatorship that killed hundreds of students in Tinomen square. Makes goodgle take the definition of democracy out of their searches and arrests people for requesting a permit to protest. While Sweden and the west not perfect are a million miles from the level of repression shown by the Chinese.
08:49 August 21, 2009 by Nemesis
Lets see.

08:56 August 21, 2009 by byke
A terrible article by the local yet again.

Advertising? scare mongering ?

Well considering the local regularly censors posters on its site and deletes and manipulates content, it sounds like a case of the old pot calling the kettle black.

I think the local would do quite well in china.
09:06 August 21, 2009 by Nemesis
I find this very funny. The hypocrisy of the the local is funny to me.

I am not allowed to post a positive comment about the Keonigsegg group and the saab takeover, yet the local complains because someone censors them.

Also the blatant anti-semitism in some of the comments on the recent Israeli story is straight out of third reich propaganda.

Well done the chinese. Give them a taste of there own medicine.

It might wake the owners up and get them to have a chat with the editors and journalists. Then we can have stories with facts and drop the hint of US neo-liberalism in the business stories.
09:16 August 21, 2009 by bjinger
There is no definit bad or good, for public benifits, censorship is a choice, especially in this imformation age. all must be abided by the local law, all countries do.
09:17 August 21, 2009 by Plowbridge
It is estimated that 25,000 sites per day are excluded by the "Golden Shield" who monitor content through 640,000 computers. Whilst it is obvious that TL is trying to big itself up by being outraged at the censorship it is very ironic that the worst website I have know for censorship and unauthorised editing of peoples free speech is , yes you guessed it The Local.
12:21 August 21, 2009 by zuma
why on earth would anyone in china wanna read a shitty news site like the local that only has shitty news about Sweden anyhow? sooo many better resources from where to get decent news.
13:46 August 21, 2009 by raukey
So people: See how many chinese agents can infeltrator and reacted so sharply in the local news columns of "thelocal" to put a mouthful of Chinese heagomony over this article.

Soon whole of the internet will be infeltrate from the chiense unless and untill necessary action are taken to forbid them.
14:57 August 21, 2009 by Sebastian_R
Welcome to the club. By the way, did you check if you guys are available from Germany? The government there just recently passsed a new censorship law so watch out from this end, too.

Oh why, does 'filtering', 'access rejection' or whatever you want to call it gain so much much support lately? I know the guys advocating the western version of censorship only want to do it for the 'good of us all' but China argues the same way and look what the result is...

Anyways good luck fighting this guys! Let us know who you contacted and maybe we can weigh in via mail, too...
15:42 August 21, 2009 by baishayu
I have been in Sweden for 5 years. Before I came here, I never knew where Sweden on earth is and never know the Stockholm is the capital of the Sweden. I even think Swede speak English.

Anyway, I like Sweden very much now, but the truth is I don't want to know anything about it before I came here just because I DON'T CARE what Swede is thinking. So what the h**l you editors are thinking about. What do you want to do? There is no difference with or without Local for common Chinese. By the way, where did you get the picture?

AND look at yourself in the mirror before you do the judgments, plz.
22:02 August 21, 2009 by Playmaker
it is funny and ironic, but it is still wrong to cersor anyone from anything even the local.
13:44 August 22, 2009 by here for the summer

I use the local to find out yes what swedes are thinking and what's happening in Sweden when I'm here and when I'm away since i don't read Swedish. The Swedes think different from the people in the US and certainly China. The fact that there is no difference to the common chinese with or without the local is not the issue. The issue is that the Chinese government is censoring anything that mentions anything is at odds with their view of the world. Many educated Chinese who don't travel outside the country don't even know there is the great firewall of china. Many people in China don't even know or can't find out the definition of democracy. To compare the locals occasional editing of hate speech to the Chinese massive government effort to limit their populations ability to know anything about democracy is a farce.Try to criticize the Chinese government in a protest like takes place in Stockholm everyday .. see how fast you get arrested and disappear.
08:45 August 24, 2009 by ooh456
I just want to say that I think China is great. I went their last year and I really liked the people and the culture. We can pretend that we are free in the West... but we are not as free and we'd like to think. Try lighting a joint in a park in Sweden. Try being gay and getting married in the USA. Try getting an abortion in Ireland. Try not being censored by the government in almost any Western country but America ( and even there too ). We have a long way to go as well and we can learn a lot more from the Chinese than they can from us.
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