China blocks "Egypt" searches on micro-blogs

Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:05am GMT

BEIJING Jan 30 (Reuters) - China blocked the word "Egypt" from micro-blog searches in a sign that the Chinese government is concerned that protests calling for political reform in the country could spill into China's internet space.

Searches on Sunday for "Egypt" on micro-blog functions of Chinese web portals such as and -- sites comparable to Twitter -- showed phrases saying search results could not be found or could not be displayed in accordance with regulations.

More than 100 people have been killed in Egypt in five days of unprecedented protests that have rocked the Arab world.

On Sunday, more than 1,000 protesters gathered in central Cairo, demanding President Hosni Mubarak step down and dismissing his appointment of a vice president.

China issued a warning to its citizens in Egypt on Sunday, urging Chinese travellers to reconsider their plans or seek assistance from the Chinese government in Egypt.

Chinese state media has reported on the unrest, including coverage of the scores of deaths and Mubarak's first appointment of the vice-president, an announcement that may be a nod toward a political successor.

On Friday, China's official Xinhua news agency reported that cell phone and internet access were cut in Cairo.

But China's censorship of its micro-blogs appears to be aimed at preventing events in Egypt from setting an example of political opposition at home.

China says the Internet is free and open for its 450 million users, but the government blocks numerous social networking sites like Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube, which have been used to mobilize protests around the world.   Continued...

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