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China-Australia relations

ABC website falls foul of Chinese censors after row over Beijing’s role in Australian politics

Australian national broadcaster blocked amid strained relations between the two countries

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 September, 2018, 1:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 4:16am

China has blocked access to the website of Australia’s national broadcaster for breaching Beijing’s internet rules and regulations, the ABC said on Monday.

It comes a year after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation began running a Chinese-language service.

The ABC said access to its website and apps was blocked on August 22 and it had since been trying to find out why.

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After repeated requests for clarification, an official from the Cyberspace Administration of China dictated a statement to the broadcaster.

“We welcome internet enterprises from all over the world to provide good information to the netizens of China,” said the official, who declined to give his name, according to the ABC.

“However, state cyber sovereignty rights shall be maintained towards some overseas websites violating China’s laws and regulations.”

The official said these included websites “spreading rumours, pornographic information, gambling, violent terrorism and some other illegal harmful information which will endanger state security and damage national pride”.

The ABC said it had not been told what laws it had violated or which content sparked the ban.

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However, ties between Canberra and Beijing have been strained recently over allegations that China is interfering in Australia’s domestic politics and using donations to gain access.

The claims infuriated China, which has dismissed local media stories – including by the ABC – about infiltration as hysteria and paranoia.

The ABC also recently reported on Beijing’s push into the Pacific through “soft diplomacy”, which Australia and New Zealand fear could potentially upset the strategic balance in the region.