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China Blocks The Guardian’s Website

The Guardian has become the latest Western media outlet to get blocked in China.

For more than a year, China’s Web-censoring authorities, unaffectionately known as the “Great Firewall of China,” have blocked sites for The New York Times and Bloomberg, each of which published unsavory articles about wealth amassed by family members of Communist Party leaders.

Other sites, including the Chinese-language versions of Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, have experienced temporary blocks.

Interestingly, The Guardian’s site has published no such scathing articles. However, it is nonetheless barred regardless of browser or device, as Chinese censorship watchdog pointed out. Only special censorship-proof software can do the trick.

According to The Guardian’s own calculation, its sole potentially contentious article of late was one detailing tensions in the restive region of Xinjiang. That topic, however, has been explored before by The Guardian, and no block ensued.

[Source: via The Guardian]

Apple Sets Up Shop on 3rd-Party E-Commerce Site

For the first time, Apple set up a sales platform on China’s “TMall” platform, which is operated by e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The virtual Apple Store,, follows Apple’s landmark agreement with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile provider, which will begin peddling iPhones on Jan. 17.

Alibaba’s TMall is a juggernaut. The B2C site has more than 50,000 merchants offering products to hundreds of millions of registered users. TMall and Alibaba’s other online marketplace, Taobao, took in a combined US$5.74 billion on China’s annual online shopping orgy, 11/11 (think Cyber Monday, only bigger).

In other Alibaba news, the company announced that it will ban the sale of Bitcoins (and other virtual currencies) following Beijing’s firm rejection of Bitcoins in December.

[Source: The Register]

The Pirate Bay’s New Plan to Evade Blockades

Having been blocked in a growing list of countries — including but not limited to the Netherlands, Iran, North Korea and the UK — file-sharing platform The Pirate Bay is building a peer-to-peer network that it hopes will help it elude the ever-swelling blockade.

The Pirate Bay has been under assault for a while. It changed its domain name no fewer than six times last year in what seemed a losing effort to stay ahead of authorities. However, the people behind The Pirate Bay believe that a peer-to-peer, “browser-like client” will prevent blocking.

[Source: Torrent Freak via The New York Times]

Nintendo Shares Spike on China News

China’s decision to temporarily lift its 14-year ban on foreign videogame consoles sent shares of Nintendo up more than 10 percent Wednesday on the Tokyo Exchange, reaching a two-and-a-half-year high.

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft — the makers, respectively, of the Wii, PlayStation and Xbox — figure to be the big beneficiaries of China’s move.

That said, those videogame heavyweights will have obstacles to conquering the Chinese market. For instance, many of the most popular videogames in China are free (save for add-ons like weapons or extra lives), which could make expensive consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation unobtainable for some gamers.

Nonetheless, access to an enormous market like China doesn’t figure to hurt.

[Source: Reuters, Bloomberg]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author ofThe Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out hisECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.

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