The website of a grassroots news organisation reporting on global labour issues has been blocked in the mainland, but its Hong Kong-based staff have vowed to keep China in their sights.
Worker News issued a post on Thursday saying that mainland readers recently found its site to be inaccessible. The Chinese internet censorship analyser GreatFire.org also showed the site to be blocked as of Friday.
“We can’t tell if this is a censorship official targeting us, or the algorithm blocked us because we hit too many keywords. But looking back at the sensitive incidents we reported over the past year… we can say this is an expected result,” the post read.
Last year, the news outlet – which was founded in 2013 – reported extensively on the plight of Shenzhen Jasic Technology workers, as well as other crackdowns on strikers and student activists.
Worker News is one of the few voices in Hong Kong that consistently report on China’s labour disputes, said an editor for the site, who did not wish to be named for fear of professional repercussions.
“There are very few reports on labour activism in mainland China, and we felt Hongkongers deserved to know. The other reason is we hope that our friends overseas will also understand China better,” he told HKFP.
While the volunteer-run, Chinese-language outlet does not conduct reporting in the mainland, its reporters collate and analyse statistics released by the Chinese authorities on topics such as the minimum wage and injury compensation.
“For example, back in 2015 to 2016, we published a series on the Guangdong authorities cracking down on Guangzhou worker groups. There was a lot of information, and we condensed it into an easily digestible package,” he said.
The editor also said that Worker News had a following in China, as shown by the web traffic and also by mainland sites that would resyndicate their content.
While their readership may be reduced, Worker News does not foresee any change to its coverage after the censorship, he added.
“China is one of the biggest economies in the world, and people deserve to know about the struggles of workers there… These things that are happening need to be reported.”
Full disclosure: Reporting from Worker News has appeared on HKFP.