China blocks YouTube after Tibet complaintsAttack on video showing security forces beating Tibetans
China has blocked the video-sharing network YouTube after Beijing denounced footage appearing to show security forces beating Tibetans in Lhasa last year as ‘a lie’.
The authorities have blocked the service on previous occasions and, more frequently, have prevented access to specific videos.
Google, which owns YouTube, confirmed that Beijing halted access to the site this week but said it did not know why.
‘We are looking into it and working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible,’ spokesman Scott Rubin said in an email to the Associated Press.
It is not clear why China has blocked it now. But the state news agency, Xinhua, yesterday condemned a video released by the Tibetan government-in-exile, which was posted on YouTube recently .
The government-in-exile said the video showed the brutal beating of Tibetan protesters and the wounds of a young man called Tendar. It allegeed he was detained for attempting to stop police beating a monk, and later died of his injuries.
But Xinhua, citing an unidentified official with China’s Tibetan regional government, said that the video was a lie.
‘Technology experts found that video and audio was edited to piece together different places, times and people,’ said the official.
He said that an officer had ‘defeated’ a man named Tendar, but acted in self-defence after the man slashed him with a knife and ignored several warnings to stop. He added that Tendar ‘died from a disease at home awaiting court trial’; that the person shown in the video was not Tendar; and that the wounds shown were in any case fake.
‘The Dalai Lama group is used to fabricating lies to deceive the international community and the aim of this video is to hide the truth of the March 14th riot,’ he said.
Tibet is a particularly sensitive issue at the moment because this month marks one year since fatal riots in Lhasa sparked wider unrest across Tibetan areas, and 50 years since a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Large parts of western China are still under heavy security.
A foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, told reporters yesterday that he did not know about the block, adding: ‘Many people have a false impression that the Chinese government fears the internet. In fact, it is just the opposite.’
Citing the country’s 300 million internet users – the world’s largest online population – and 100m blogs, he added: ‘China’s internet is open enough, but also needs to be regulated by law in order to prevent the spread of harmful information and for national security.’
One blogger commented wryly that Qin had spoken accurately, because ‘it has always been that the internet fears the Chinese government’.
In January, the authorities launched a crackdown on ‘vulgar’ content which led to the closure of hundreds of sites, including a popular blog hosting site. Critics argue that the campaign is designed to intimidate bloggers and discourage dissent. Several other countries have blocked YouTube in the past.