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Internet Blockade in Xinjiang Puts A Strain on Science

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Science  11 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5959, pp. 1471
DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5959.1471

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For 5 months and counting, an Internet blackout has been hobbling the daily routines of thousands of scientists and students in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The telecom blockade has affected a U.S.-supported HIV-prevention trial and could jeopardize an effort to build a research base in China's vast western frontier. The Chinese government imposed the communications blackout (domestic phone service is unaffected) on 6 July, 24 hours after a protest by Uyghurs in Xinjiang's capital devolved into riots in which scores of people, primarily Han Chinese, were killed. Authorities have asserted that Uyghur separatists in Xinjiang and abroad used social networking Web sites like Facebook and Twitter to orchestrate the violence.