The New York Times has launched a Chinese-language news Web site aimed at China’s massive online population.
The paper said in a statement the site, which went active Thursday, it hopes to draw readers from China’s growing number of educated, affluent citizens.
China has an estimated 500 million Internet users, making it the world’s largest online population. But Chinese net users experience the web much differently than the rest of the world, due to a massive government censorship system that blocks content deemed objectionable.
The Times acknowledged Wednesday that government censors sometimes block material from its English Web site. But it said it was hopeful that government officials would be receptive to its Chinese-language project.
Its foreign editor Joseph Kahn said the paper has no control over what is censored by Beijing. But he vowed the Chinese version would adhere to journalistic standards, saying it will “not become an official Chinese media company.”
The Chinese government has had a rocky relationship recently with foreign reporters. In May, Al-Jazeera said it was forced to close its English-language Beijing bureau after reporter Melissa Chan was expelled from the country. Ms. Chan is believed to be the first foreign correspondent in 14 years to be kicked out of China.
Other foreign new organizations have reported being harassed or interfered with by government authorities when their material is critical of Beijing.
China employs thousands of censors that continuously monitor online content and block material considered a threat to government authority. Popular foreign websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are among those blocked by the so-called Great Firewall of China.
The government says its online censorship is aimed at maintaining social stability, and that it helps stop the spread of false rumors and inappropriate material.