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Between 11am and 1pm yesterday many - perhaps even most - Internet users in China were suddenly unable to access overseas web sites. The telecommunications providers that together handle all of China’s Internet traffic, China Telecom and China Unicom, have officially stated their infrastructure was not to blame, leading some observers to suggest the outage was a test of a government “kill switch”. In recent weeks the Chinese government has been actively punishing websites and users that spread “rumors”. The state-owned China Daily reported on that “crackdown” today, saying that online actions can result in “criminal punishment” and suggesting that users of Twitter-style microblogging sites self-censor to avoid trouble.

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