China's internet users have been cut off from accessing all foreign websites for around an hour in an unexplained incident that sparked speculation the country’s censorship system was being tested or further tightened.
Xu Chuanchao, an executive at Sohu, one of the country’s biggest internet portals, wrote on his microblog: “This malfunction is caused by the failure of China’s backbone network and is under renovation.”
But one company, Data Centre for China Internet, posted: “Latest news: most foreign websites can’t be accessed. Analysis: for commonly known reasons, a large number of foreign URLs are blocked. It is possible that the great firewall is undergoing some readjustment, mistakenly adding many foreign websites to the blocking list. The details are unclear.”
Li Kaifu, the former boss of Microsoft and then Google in China, told his 12 million microblog followers: “All foreign websites are inaccessible!” adding emoticons to show disappointment, surprise and curiosity.
Another microblogger wrote: “The Chinese nation built a new Great Wall.”