NYTimes.com is being blocked in China, even as some news sites have had recent restrictions lifted, IHT reported. A number of news sites belonging to the BBC, Voice of America and Asiaweek had restrictions lifted by Friday after being blocked a few days earlier. Asked why NYTimes.com is being blocked, — though access has been erratic geographically — Chinese government officials were reticent with the IHT, saying they weren’t familiar with the problem, adding, “Web site maintenance is not within the job purview of the Foreign Ministry.” (Ed. note: Some days a laugh track would come in handy here.)
– James Fallows: The Atlantic Monthly journalist, who has been living in China for the past three years, shakes his head at the decision to block NYTimes.com. Calling the use of the Great Chinese Firewall “just strange,” Fallow’s writes: “China’s official PR machinery often succeeds mainly in making the country seem far more closed-off, impenetrable, defensive, and difficult to deal with than it actually is most places most of the time… The vast majority of Chinese net users would never look at NYTimes.com anyway — it’s in the wrong language. Those who really want to see what’s on there can find a way to do so, despite the block. And how confident, open-minded, rules-abiding, modern and so on will the episode make the Chinese government look in other countries’ eyes?” Fallows has a little more on China and NYTimes.com here.