China's Hainan Unveils Plan to Allow Tourists to Bypass Censors

(Bloomberg) -- Hainan, the Chinese tropical island seeking to become a global tourism attraction, plans to allow foreign visitors access to currently blocked sites such as YouTube.

Usage of services including Facebook and Twitter would be allowed in areas of Hainan’s two biggest cities of Haikou and Sanya, according to the provincial government’s three-year plan posted on an official website. The document said access would be granted in areas where tourists gather, without being more specific. It also didn’t say if the proposal has the support of the national government.

China blocks a raft of foreign websites and social networks through a sophisticated network of censors known as the Great Firewall, restricting access to Instagram and Snapchat as well as foreign media including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Google has had most of its services blocked for years after the company refused to self-censor search results.

“Within the two important tourist cities of Haikou and Sanya, we have a plan to build a foreign tourism zone based on the development experiences of Bangkok, Spain’s Majorca and other cities,” the document read. “Within those zones, foreigners will be able to use as normal popular overseas services such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”

Hainan is located off China’s southern coast, close to Vietnam.

Read more: Chinese Resorts Quietly Setting Up Baccarat Tables in Hainan

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