Nanjing authorities are considering "opening up” the Great Firewall to Facebook and Twitter - ahead of the 2013 Asian Youth Games in August.
A proposal was submitted to state censors by city officials earlier this week, requesting an opening up to social media networks during the eight-day event in Jiangsu's capital city , the Yangtse Evening News reported on Tuesday.
“Athletes at the Asian Youth Games like to do first-person reporting and they can all be their own journalists. We must work to ensure smooth and secure functioning of the [internet] networks,” said Nanjing Mayor Ji Jianye during a meeting with provincial party committee members. He said foreign atheletes from other countries should be able to enjoy open Internet service.
Liu Yian, a member of the standing committee of the city's CPC committee, announced on Tuesday that a “test” programme had been launched.
The official Nanjing 2013 Asian Youth Games Facebook page was created in April and currently has about 95,000 “likes”. The event’s Twitter account, which also opened in April, has just 43 followers.
Debate was stirred among excited mainland netizens, some who asked whether websites such as YouTube and Google would be open too. One internet user praised Ji for having a “political conscience”.
But on microblog Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, one user remarked cynically: “What’s the big deal? even if it's true, it would only be a temporary opening up.”
The Asian Youth Games, which takes place in August 16 to 24, will feature 15 sports and 118 events. About 2,100 athletes from 45 countries are expected to attend. Most participants are aged from 13 to 17.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Nanjing 2013 Asian Youth Games Facebook page was created in 2010. It was actually created in April 2013.