China has always been very sensitive to social networking. In 2009, Beijing blocked sites like Facebook and Twitter, because according to the government, the riots in the Western Province of Xinjiang was aggrevated by the social networking sites.
The New York Times was also banned, since they reported about the family of the then Premier, Wen Jibao, amassing a huge fortune.
However according to South China Morning Post, recently the government has decided to unblock the sites, but only at the Free Trade Zone in Shanghai.
This means that there won't be any more aggressive censoring, no routine deleting online posting and no blocking access to websites.
According to South China Morning Post, the sites were unblocked to "make the foreigners feel at home." They quoted a government source saying, "If they can't get on to Facebook or read New York Times, they may wonder how special the Free Trade Zone is compared to the rest of the country."
Facebook and Twitter however preferred to stay quiet on this subject.
The Chinese newspaper also mentioned about authorities welcoming bids from foreign telecom firms for license to provide internet services in the zone.
The recently approved Shanghai FTZ is slated to be a test bed for convertibility of China's Yuan currency and further liberalisation of interest rates, as well as reforms of foreign direct investment and taxation, the State Council, or cabinet, has said. The zone will be formally launched on Sept. 29, the Securities Times reported earlier this month.