Taiwan prods China to drop ban on two news Web sites

Taiwan has asked China to lift a ban on the Web sites of two Taiwanese newspapers, to give people a chance to see different views on their political squabbles.

Taiwan has expelled journalists from two Chinese news agencies and won't consider letting them return until China lifts a ban on the Web sites of two major newspapers from the island, an official said Friday.

"We think it would help people in China better understand our views if they had access to the Web sites," said an official from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, which is in charge of China affairs. Lifting the ban alone might not cause Taipei to allow the Chinese journalists back immediately, she said, but "it would be an important step in the right direction."

Taiwan hopes China will stop blocking access to the Web sites of The China Times and United Daily News, two of the island's largest media groups.

China carefully controls the Internet sites it allows its citizens to view. A Harvard Law School study from 2002 found that at least four Internet filtering methods were in use in China, rendering thousands of Web sites inaccessible, including regular news and commentary sites.

Taiwan announced Monday it had revoked visas for journalists from China's official Xinhua News Agency as well as the People's Daily, alleging that the news organizations were contributing to worsening relations between Taipei and Beijing through their reporting.

Relations between Taiwan and China have been strained for decades. The two split in 1949 after a civil war, and Beijing has long threatened to attack the island if it moves toward formal independence.