China has blocked the BBC's English-language website amid massive student protests in Hong Kong, the British news giant said Wednesday. BBC Global News director Peter Horrocks said it appeared to be "deliberate censorship."
The blackout seemed focused strictly on the BBC and not other foreign news sites. The BBC's English-language site has been generally available in China in the past, but other BBC services, including its Chinese-language news website and BBC World TV, have been censored, according to the media company. The last time the BBC's English-language website was blocked was during its coverage of activist Chen Guangcheng's escape from house arrest in April 2012.
China's Communist Party aggressively blocks Internet sites and television content on topics considered sensitive, such as criticisms of the government. The New York Times and Bloomberg had their websites blocked in China after they published investigations in 2012 into the family wealth of former Premier Wen Jiabao and current President Xi Jinping respectively.
Throughout the student protests that began last month, China has censored the photo-sharing app Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and social media platforms in mainland China. "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," Horrocks said.
The reported censorship came a day after a video of Hong Kong police beating an unarmed pro-democracy protester went viral on the Internet. Police dismantled protester-built barricades, used pepper spray and arrested at least 45 people on Tuesday night. Hong Kong’s pro-democratic demonstrators want Beijing to reverse its decision to prescreen candidates for Hong Kong’s chief executive post during the planned 2017 election.
A front-page editorial in Wednesday’s People’s Daily, the party's media mouthpiece, said Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters are “doomed to fail” and warned that Hong Kong’s economy could be maintained only if the protesters quit. “Stability is bliss, and turmoil brings havoc,” it added.