China has allowed access to Internet versions of two of Taiwan's top daily newspapers after blocking them for years for fear they would spread anti-Communist propaganda, a Taiwan official said on Monday.
Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said that users in the populous Pearl River Delta and other parts of China over the past two weeks had accessed previously blocked Web sites run by the China Times (news.chinatimes.com) and the United Daily News (http://udn.com/NEWS/)
A search of the sites in Beijing found the United Daily was accessible but the China Times was still blocked.
The Taiwan government had appealed for more than a year to get the bans lifted.
"China is facing pressure from its own citizens," said Mainland Affairs Council spokeswoman Corinna Wei.
Yang Yi, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, which oversees Taiwan-related issues, said Beijing regulates the Internet "for its healthy and orderly growth according to law".
"We don't have Internet policies that are targeted at a particular region or website," he said at a regular media briefing. "And we don't have varying standards when carrying out the policies in different places in the country."
China sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, and Beijing routinely blocks Internet sites that go against the government view on sensitive topics such as its ever tense relations with the island.
China has threatened to attack Taiwan if it does not eventually reunify, but over the past two years it has taken a softer public relations approach to win favor with Taiwan citizens.
Both the newspapers which have been unblocked lean toward the Nationalist Party, or KMT, a former Communist enemy that in recent years has taken a conciliatory view toward China as economic ties grow.
Unblocking the websites could be a signal of support to KMT leaders, said Li Chunming, a Beijing historian and former Chinese TV network employee. "But if the papers agreed to it, there definitely won't be any sensitive content online," he said.
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