(The Hosting News) – China may be backing off its high censorship standards at least in one small area of the country.
According to a BBC report on Tuesday, The South China Morning Post noted that the country was planning to unblock websites including Facebook, Twitter and others in Shanghai via one of the city’s free-trade zones.
Through what’s commonly dubbed the “great firewall of China,” the nation commonly blocks out websites it believes citizens may use to spread anti-government messages.
The free-trade zone will officially launch in Shanghai later this month.
Aside from the social networking websites, a prominent U.S. news source, The New York Times, will also be unblocked in the area.
The goal of relaxing the censorship is to make visiting Shangai more friendly to foreign visitors, the report from The South China Morning Post notes. “If they can’t go on to Facebook or read the New York Times, they may naturally wonder how special the free-trade zone is compared with the rest of China,” commented a source via the report.
Meanwhile, Jim Killock, a director of the Open Rights Group, while hailing the “small steps” as “good news,” emphasized in the BBC report that it was still important that “US web companies do not co-operate with any Chinese government requests.”
Despite its heavy internet censorship, China ranks #1 in terms of Internet users worldwide. The country is estimated to have over 568 million people online.