China may open up Shanghai’s free trade zone to foreign sites, including Facebook & Twitter

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While China’s Great Firewall continues to restrict Internet access across most of the country, a small region in Shanghai could soon open up to foreign sites banned elsewhere in China.

Chinese officials have reportedly decided to lift the country’s ban on foreign sites in the Shanghai free trade zone, a small portion of the city intended to let foreign businesses work within the country, reports the South China Morning Post.

If true, the decision would let residents of the free trade zone access sites like Twitter and Facebook, as well as foreign news sites like

“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,” one of the government sources told the South China Morning Post.

The free trade zone currently covers a 28.78 square kilometer portion of Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, and the SCMP reports the zone could eventually expand to cover 1,210 km if the zone proves successful. While it would only be a small start at first, unlocking communications in the free trade zone would be a clear sign that strengthening China’s economy may eventually become a bigger priority for the country’s government than censorship.

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