In its bid to encourage greater interest among foreign investors to invest in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone, the Chinese government will be lifting its blanket ban on Western social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, along with websites the government considers politically sensitive, such as The New York Times. However, the landmark decision to lift the blanket ban – often referred to as the Great Firewall of China – will only apply to the 28 square kilometer Free Trade Zone, the first such zone in mainland China.
In addition, the Chinese government will also allow foreign telecommunications company to apply for licenses to provide Internet access within the Zone, directly competing against the three state-owned telecommunications companies in the country. A government source told the South China Morning Post:
“In order to welcome foreign companies to invest and to let foreigners live and work happily in the free-trade zone, we must think about how we can make them feel like at home. If they can’t get onto Facebook or read The New York Times, they may naturally wonder how special the free-trade zone is compared with the rest of China.”
Under the Golden Shield Project , popular social media websites Facebook and Twitter as well as several websites were banned from being accessed using local Internet service providers (ISPs) since 2009, and continues today, making the lift within the FTZ a significant decision from the Chinese government.