The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s oldest and largest newspapers, says that its accounts on China’s main social media networks have been shut down on Wednesday for no apparent reason. The Japanese news organization had its main account on Sina Weibo – China’s version of Twitter – deleted, including four other accounts on similar Chinese social networks. The world’s more famous social media platforms and organizations like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have not been allowed into China’s government controlled web-space, and instances like this show the range of control the government has.
“It’s regrettable to be shut down in spite of our large number of followers,” the head of the Asahi’s international division Junichi Furuyama said about the incident. “We are urging these companies to resume our service as soon as possible,” he added. Previous to this, Asahi Shimbun’s Chinese website was already inaccessible from anywhere inside China. By a social media loophole, the Asahi Shimbun able to post headlines on micro-blogging services like Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. Asahi has amassed a little over 1,300,000 followers after setting up its presence on four of China’s most popular sites. But on 16 July, all of these accounts were stopped, deleted, or rendered inaccessible to followers or even just browsing. The reason for the accounts’ deletion is still unclear as of the moment and Sina Weibo was not immediately available for comment. Asahi contacted the management the other companies, but they were given no answer as to the locked accounts.
This is not at all strange for Beijing, whose government has previously blocked the websites of other foreign news organizations like the New York Times and Bloomberg. Those were blocked after publishing reports on topics deemed taboo by the ruling Communist Party. The situations leading to and reactions to this incident is more notable because of Japan and China’s ongoing territorial spat over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. This dispute had initially caused uproar in China, when Japan effectively nationalized the Senkaku islands, claimed by China as the Diaoyus.
[via Rocket News]