Internet returning in Xinjiang

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, January 12, 2010
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Local authorities further lifted the ban on Internet service in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region yesterday, allowing partial access to two of China's most popular websites following nearly six months of closure after the deadly July 5 riot in the capital, Xinjiang-based reported yesterday.

Residents in Xinjiang yesterday started to have access to two commercial websites: and

"I am glad to see another two websites become accessible today. The government did keep its word of gradually resuming the Internet service," said Song Yingzong, a Urumqi resident in his 40's.

The two websites are among the nation's favorites for their e-mail accounts with large storage capacity as well as forum and blog sections. But users in Xinjiang could not enjoy such services that people in other regions take for granted because they still lack full access to the two websites.

The pages of the websites appeared to be specially designed for Xinjiang users. Selected headlines are displayed neatly on the front pages of the sites, and no advertisements or flashing banners appear, which makes them look very "plain" compared to the and that appear in other regions.

Also, the website shows no links to e-mail as well as to forums and blogs on the web pages. The users can only view the content on the sites but not to communicate with others.

"They are not the websites I used to know. They look fake in a way," said a 27-year-old local reporter surnamed Wu. "Without the interactive function, the sites are lifeless."

Government officials said the measures were taken to ensure the area's safety.

"To prevent further unrest, the government blocked access to the Web and suspended international calls and short message services in the region 24 hours after the July 5 riot because they were vital tools used by ringleaders to instigate the riots in Urumqi, capital of the region," Yang Maofa, director of the regional telecommunications administration said earlier.

Limited service was restored last August and Xinjiang residents can freely access more than 100 region-based Web portals, ranging from banks and local government departments to entertainment and online games. But these sites are blocked to viewers outside the region. became the first regional-based website that can be viewed by people outside the region yesterday since the implementation of Internet control in the region, according to an announcement posted on the website by the regional information office, which also runs the site.

But viewers outside the region cannot log into the e-mail system on Only people in Xinjiang could send and receive e-mails from their tianshannet account to each other within the region.

The regional government decided to gradually lift the ban on Internet service on Dec 29 last year because the overall social situation in the region after the July 5 riot, which left 197 dead and more than 1,700 injured, has become stable. The decision was approved by the central government, according to a statement released by the regional information office earlier.

On the same day Xinjiang residents were allowed access to two official websites: and

Although the page designs of those sites are not adjusted for Xinjiang residents, users in Xinjiang cannot leave comments or access the forum section on the websites, nor can they use the e-mail services on the websites.

To gain full access to the Internet, some people even travel regularly to Dunhuang in Gansu province hundreds of miles away, which is the closest city to Urumqi.

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