The Economist and Time have joined the list of foreign news websites including The New York Times, The Independent and the BBC currently blocked in mainland China.
The sites appear to have been censored as a result of recently published cover articles in the magazines critical of China’s President Xi Jinping, The New York Times reported on Friday.
According to GreatFire.org, a website that tracks internet and social media censorship in China, The Economist’s website and its cover article have been completely censored since April 2.
The Economist’s mobile app, through which users can download the magazine and read its online articles, has also been censored.
Several public accounts managed by The Economist on WeChat, a popular Chinese social media app, have also been suspended.
However, the websites of the publication’s umbrella company, The Economist Group, and the group’s consulting arm, The Economist Intelligence Unit, have not been blocked.
GreatFire.org also showed that those searching for the Time website or the magazine’s cover article have experienced frequent connection resets since April 5.
China’s system of internet controls, known as the Great Firewall, resets the connections of web requests that contain certain censored keywords. Time’s mobile app is still functioning.
The two magazines published cover articles online this week examining the tightening control Xi has exerted over Chinese politics and the cult of personality he has built around himself.
“He has retreated into the world of Mao: personality cults, plaudits to the state sector and diatribes against foreigners supposedly intent on destroying China,” Hannah Beech of Time wrote.
Both cover articles criticize Xi’s strongman approach to governance.
"Xi has acquired more power than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong,” The Economist article stated, adding “It was supposed to let him get things done. What is going wrong?”
John Parker, the Beijing bureau chief of The Economist, said the publication received no warning “that he was aware of” about the website’s being blocked.
The Chinese government often blocks access to articles or entire websites that contain content it deems unfavourable. Most recently, all mentions of Panama and Panama Papers were blocked on Chinese social media after files leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca detailing the ownership of offshore shell companies, several of them linked to relatives of high-level Chinese leaders, were published.
Chinese editors were instructed to remove any mention of the Panama Papers from their sites.
The New York Times’s English and Chinese language sites have been blocked since October 2012, after the newspaper published an expose on the hidden wealth of former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
China has also blocked social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and search engine Google.