Wall Street Journal's Chinese version blocked in China

BEIJING (AFP) - Access to the Wall Street Journal's Chinese-language edition has been cut off in China, where official censors routinely delete online content deemed sensitive but less often block entire websites.

Only the local version of the US newspaper, and not the English-language website, was unavailable. It was unclear why this occurred or whether it was intentional.

The Journal's Chinese-language site has had certain articles blocked since it was launched in 2002, but rarely the whole site.

The ruling Communist Party - highly sensitive to social unrest that might challenge its authority - tightly controls the Internet and news media.

It employs a so-called Great Firewall to filter content from abroad, and a huge staff rapidly to delete offending articles and microblog posts. The popular sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are inaccessible.

Authorities also control domestic news outlets to varying degrees and issue directives on coverage.

They blocked the websites of the US media outfits Bloomberg and The New York Times last year after exposes revealed the huge fortunes amassed by relatives of President Xi Jinping and of former premier Wen Jiabao.

A spokesperson for the Journal could not immediately be reached for comment.