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China.com Back Up in China, but a Different Version

China.com, the portal that was allegedly blocked from mainland Chinese users by the Chinese government, went back online last week, according to sources in China.

ChinaBuzz, the China-based English Web-zine that first broke the blockage story on May 13, reported on Friday that the site was back online.

However, according to a knowledgeable source, the new China.com site is a different version from what can be accessed outside of China.

"It was blocked for a while and now they have different versions for inside and outside China," said the source. "When it was blocked, the China.com front page was re-directed to CWW (China Wide Web)."

China Wide Web is a another portal site by the producers of China.com which was originally intended to be an internal subscription based portal.

Peter Hamilton, COO of China.com, confirmed to InternetNews that for a period China Wide Web came up when Chinese users punched in China.com.

The China.com portal operation is run by China Internet Corporation (CIC), which has substantial financial backing from China's official news agency, Xinhua, along with other investors.

ChinaBuzz indicated that Beijing forced the site down in China because of conflicts between government officials and the Western-style management operating China.com.

Earlier tests by InternetNews found that China.com was not accessible in China but available abroad; subsequent tests late last week found a version of the site to be available in China.

China.com officials deny that it was blocked but said that there are different versions of the site for inside and outside of China.

Both versions, however, are in published simplified Chinese characters which is the written language indigenous to mainland China adopted after the Communists took control of the country in 1949.

Traditional characters are used outside of China: in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas communities. Moreover, CIC already produces portals for Hong Kong and Taiwan, Hongkong.com and Taiwan.com.

On Friday, David Kim, CFO of China.com, said at a Credit Suisse First Boston Conference in Hong Kong that the Chinese government would not block a site because it is difficult to do and it would hurt its international reputation.

Nevertheless, in the past, it has been documented by various independent news organizations and the U.S. government that hundreds of Web sites have been blocked from reception in China by the Beijing regime including the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Geocities and CNN, to name a few.

China has also previously jammed US government sites like Voice of America, the US Embassy in China, pornographic sites like Playboy, Taiwanese government sites, and most dissident sites.

Over the past few months, many press reports have speculated that CIC is planning to list its China.com flagship on NASDAQ sometime this year.

CIC has a stake in 24/7 Media Asia and in the America Online operation in Hong Kong.



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