Herdict reports confirm that as of Sunday, October 28, China is continuing to block access to both the English- and Chinese-language New York Times websites. On Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, search terms related to the family or wealth of Wen Jiabao are also blocked, according to the China Digital Times, a website for Chinese news that is US-based and is itself blocked in China. Although China has previously blocked individual stories, this is the first time that China has fully blocked access to the New York Times.
On the afternoon of Thursday, October 25, the New York Times broke a story on the multibillion-dollar wealth of the family of Wen Jiabao, the prime minister of China. According to the Times, much of this wealth accumulated after Wen’s political rise to power. The story was originally posted on the English website at 4:34 pm, Eastern time. By 7 pm Eastern time, access to both the English- and Chinese-language Times sites had been blocked in China, before the Chinese-translated version of the story had even been posted to the Chinese-language site. On social media sites, references to the story were quickly deleted.
The extent to which China’s swift response has actually been effective is unclear. Chinese users with VPN access can still reach the New York Times websites, and posts from Weibo users indicate that quite a few users read and responded to the content of the Times story before it was blocked.