LinkedIn Service Is Restored in Beijing After `Jasmine' 24-Hour Disruption

LinkedIn Corp., operator of the largest networking site for professionals, became accessible again in Beijing after a disruption of more than 24 hours.

Service to the site resumed some time before 8 p.m. Beijing time, according to Bill Bishop, an independent media consultant and internet user in the nation’s capital. The service was blocked as “part of a broader effort in China going on right now, involving other sites as well,” Hani Durzy, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based LinkedIn, said in an e-mail earlier today.

The site went down one day after a user posted comments saying that Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution should spread to the Asian nation that’s been ruled by the Communist Party since 1949. The world’s largest Internet market by users has since 2009 shut out sites such as those operated by Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. that don’t comply with Chinese rules to self censor information on politically sensitive subjects.

“Often, this is done as a sort of a warning signal -- sort of a shot across the bow,” said Doug Tygar, professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley. “A portion of that is symbolic.”

A LinkedIn user identified as “Jasmine Z” set up the discussion group to post opinions on whether the revolutions that brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt should spread to China.

When the site came back up this evening, the discussion group was still there, under the administration of a user now identified as “Jasmine J.” E-mails sent to accounts associated with Jasmine Z and Jasmine J did not receive a response.

‘Jasmine Voice’

The problems accessing the site over the past day are “likely” connected to the creation of the LinkedIn group, Tygar said. Chinese citizens can use Internet services to work around blocked sites, he said.

Li Wufeng, chief of the State Council Information Office Internet Affairs Bureau, didn’t return calls today.

On Feb. 23, Jasmine Z set up the “Jasmine Voice” discussion group to post opinions on the pro-democracy protests currently spreading through the Middle East.

“After years of independent thinking, I am becoming a critical dissent dying for democracy, freedom and justice in my homeland,” Jasmine Z wrote in the first of three posts.

A second post said China’s Communist Party members fail to “realize the crisis of the autocratic one-party system” and a third post referred to the party as “a power and elite club.”

Oppressive Environments

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed the U.S. will step up support for global Internet freedom, as citizens using social networking sites run by Facebook and Twitter organize demonstrations spreading across the Mideast and North Africa.

The U.S. will help “people in oppressive Internet environments get around filters, stay one step ahead of the censors, the hackers, and the thugs who beat them up or imprison them for what they say online,” she said in a speech in Washington.

U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr. was filmed at a protest in Beijing last week. The U.S. Embassy in a statement said that Huntsman and his family were “passing through” the shopping district and his presence was “purely coincidental.”

After a video of Huntsman at the event began to circulate on the Internet, Huntsman’s Chinese name is no longer searchable on micro blogs like Sina.com. A search on Sina’s micro blog produces a Chinese message which translates as “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the search results have not been shown.”

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net; Thomas Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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