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Last updated at 12:12 GMT, Friday, 14 December 2012

The Great Firewall of China

Summary

14 December 2012

There's been uproar on China's tightly-controlled internet after local media reported that the state news agency Xinhua has an account on Twitter. Along with Facebook and YouTube, the popular western social networking website is banned in China.

Reporter:

Viv Marsh

A person using the Twitter 'app' on an iphone

The social networking site Twitter is banned in China.

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Report

Xinhua has had an English-language account on Twitter for months, and it's not clear why China's regional press chose to mention its existence now. But it's provoked both anger and amusement among Chinese web users, whose every mouse-click is monitored by what's known as the Great Firewall.

One comment left on the website of the news magazine Caijing, said Xinhua's officials should be arrested for jumping the wall. Another ventured plaintively, "please allow us to visit Twitter too".

Xinhua's cyber-journey to the West may be news to many of China's netizens, but it hasn't gone there alone. Also posting on Twitter in English are the official China Daily and Global Times, in what seems to be an attempt to promote China's soft power.

Joining them on the other side of the Great Firewall are some of the best-known Chinese dissidents, including the artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who used special software to circumvent the controls. This doesn't mean there's contact between them. More than six thousand people worldwide follow Xinhua's frequent posts on Twitter - but the news agency itself doesn't follow anyone at all.

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Vocabulary

provoked

brought about, caused

monitored

watched closely

jumping the wall

ignoring the internet restrictions

plaintively

sadly

cyber-journey

increase of web-traffic

netizens

'net citizens'; people who use the internet

dissidents

people who disagree with a political party or government

activists

supporters of a political cause

software

computer programs

circumvent

avoid, get past

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