Wik­iLeaks web­site blocked be­hind Chi­nese fire­wall

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

BEI­JING: China, one of the biggest In­ter­net po­licers, took no chances with the lat­est on­line sen­sa­tion and blocked the Wik­iLeaks web­site Wed­nes­day amid po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing claims made in leaked U.S. diplo­matic ca­bles posted there.

At­tempts to ac­cess wik­ileaks.org and cable­gate.wik­ileaks.org were met with a no­tice Wed­nes­day say­ing the con­nec­tion had been re­set, or di­verted the user to pop­u­lar Chi­nese search en­gine Baidu. That's the stan­dard re­sponse when the con­nec­tion to an over­seas-based web­site has been cut. It wasn't im­me­di­ately clear what the au­thor­i­ties would find of­fen­sive, al­though the U.S. Em­bassy memos con­tain some frank talk about and at­trib­uted to Chi­nese fig­ures and their North Korean al­lies.

In one, for­mer Sin­ga­porean Prime Min­is­ter Lee Kuan Yew is quoted in a con­ver­sa­tion with Deputy Sec­re­tary of State James Steinberg last year de­scrib­ing North Korea's govern­ment as psy­cho­pathic, and leader Kim Jong Il as a "flabby old chap" who "prances around sta­di­ums seek­ing adu­la­tion."

In an­other, a Chi­nese diplo­mat is quoted de­scrib­ing North Korea as a "spoiled child" for at­tempt­ing to win U.S. at­ten­tion with a provoca­tive mis­sile test.

The leaks also claimed that China's Polit­buro di­rected a cy­ber in­tru­sion into Google's com­puter sys­tems, and expressed con­cern over at­tempts by Ira­nian front com­pa­nies to ob­tain Chi­nese nu­clear technology.

It wasn't clear when the blocks were im­posed, al­though a vast swath of the In­ter­net is in­ac­ces­si­ble be­hind China's fire­wall, in­clud­ing so­cial net­work­ing sites such as Face­book, Twit­ter and YouTube.

Hu­man rights and po­lit­i­cal dis­sent-themed sites are also rou­tinely banned, al­though tech­no­log­i­cally savvy users can eas­ily jump the so-called "Great Fire­wall" with proxy servers or other al­ter­na­tives.

China's govern­ment has taken a low-key ap­proach to the leaks, with the For­eign Min­istry say­ing it would not com­ment on spe­cific as­ser­tions in the ca­bles.

"China takes note of rel­e­vant re­ports. We hope the U.S. side will prop­erly han­dle the rel­e­vant is­sue. As for the con­tent of the doc­u­ments, we do not com­ment on that," min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said Tues­day.

On Wed­nes­day, the Global Times, a provoca­tive tabloid pub­lished by the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party mouth­piece Peo­ples Daily, la­beled the dis­clo­sure a "ne­far­i­ous slan­der against China.

It also ques­tioned the U.S. govern­ment's per­ceived in­abil­ity to block the post­ing of the leaks, say­ing it raised ques­tions as to whether it had reached some form of tacit un­der­stand­ing with Wik­iLeaks. -Ap

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