BBC Says its Web Site is Unblocked in China

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The BBC says its English-language Web site now appears fully available to Internet users in China after years of being blocked.

The corporation said staff at its bureau in Beijing are able to access stories that would normally be blocked and that traffic from China on Tuesday was much higher than usual. Even stories on sensitive subjects like Tibet are now available, the BBC said.

But the Chinese-language Web site still appears to be blocked, said the BBC.

The move, which is unlikely without government approval, comes as the Chinese government is facing a growing global backlash over the recent actions of its military in Tibet in response to deadly rioting in the region. China says 19 people were killed in the violence while international organizations and the government-in-exile say over 100 people died.

Major foreign news organizations routinely see their Web sites blocked in China but the ban was extended to include YouTube and Google News in the wake of the Tibet protests in an apparent attempt to stop the spread of footage of the riots.

The incident brought the issue of Tibet on to the world stage at a time when China is trying to promote a positive image to world ahead of the Olympic games, which are scheduled to open in Beijing on Aug. 8.

In the wake of the troubles in Tibet, foreign journalists were kicked out of the province and security forces in neighboring provinces also hindered the work of the foreign media.

On Tuesday as the BBC's English-language Web site was becoming available to local Internet users the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it would allow 10 foreign reporters to visit Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, from Wednesday.

China had previously said that it would allow reporters greater freedom to travel and report in the country in the run-up to the games.

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