China Lifts Ban on LinkedIn

Earlier last week, major media sources reported that China blocked popular professional networking site LinkedIn in the country. Bloggers and sources from China report that the ban was quickly lifted after only a day. Herdict received one inaccessibility report concerning the site on February 27 from Henan province.

Popular opinion suggests that the government shut down the site after debate on LinkedIn began centering around whether China could experience similar movements such as recent revolts in the Middle East and North Africa. Bloomberg Businessweek reported that user “Jasmine Z” set up a discussion group for users to discuss “whether the revolutions that brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt should be brought to China.” John C. Dvorak on PC Magazine wrote:

“According to reports, apparently, LinkedIn had some sort of ‘discussion group’ that focused on whether or not Chianc ould have an uprising similar to what occurred in Egypt… Even Hillary Clinton is now a censored search target. This whole thing is ridiculous, and China should either give up on the Internet altogether or be less skittish.”

CNN Tech reports that another possible reason for the ban was Twitter’s availability on LinkedIn. Although the social networking site has been blocked since June 2009, Chinese netizens could access and tweet on LinkedIn’s platform.

Cropping up at the same time as mass movements in the Middle East and North Africa continue against authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and others, the block in China signals that the Jasmine Revolution campaign could spread to China. However, the government has apparently been cracking down already on possible dissent. Chinese human rights activists have been reported to be missing ever since stirrings for revolt have reached government ears. According to USA Today, three lawyers have disappeared in February. In an interview with the wife of Beijing lawyer Jiang Tianyong, who mysteriously disappeared in February 19, she said:

“He might be sentenced on some charge… But I am most worried they will torture him. He has high blood pressure, but the police refuse to deliver his medicine. I worry about his personal safety.”

But citizens seem wary to participate in the recent Jasmine Revolution. As one CNNGo Asia writer reports, only 20 people showed up in an organized rally in Hong Kong last week.

About the Author: Qichen Zhang

Qichen is an undergraduate studying Social Studies at Harvard College. Besides Herdict, she blogs for the Berkman Center's OpenNet Initiative and Blogging Common. She can be reached at qzhang@fas.harvard.edu.

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