NEW YORK — The New York Times said Wednesday it was launching a Chinese-language news website to deliver "high-quality coverage of world affairs, business and culture" to readers in China.
A statement from the prestigious US daily said it was "launching a beta version of a new online Chinese-language edition designed to bring New York Times journalism to China."
The site, http://cn.nytimes.com/, was to launch in Beijing early Thursday, or late Wednesday New York time.
"The goal of the new site is to provide China's growing number of educated, affluent, global citizens with high-quality coverage of world affairs, business and culture," the statement said.
"The site will be edited specifically for readers in China, presenting translations of the best of The Times's award-winning journalism alongside original work by Chinese writers contributing to The Times."
Tensions have flared recently between authorities in Beijing and foreign media outlets operating in China.
Al-Jazeera said in May it had shut its English-language bureau in China after its correspondent became the first foreign journalist to be expelled from the country since 1998.
China operates a huge system of Internet control and censorship dubbed the Great Firewall of China, aimed at snuffing out information or comments that the government considers a threat to its authority.
Google has complained of interference from the Beijing government and reduced its presence in the Chinese market.
Chinese authorities regularly black out sections of broadcasts by foreign news channels such as CNN and BBC World that they deem objectionable.
Asked about any agreement with Chinese authorities about content, New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said there was "none."
"The content of the site will be determined by The New York Times," she said in response to an AFP query.
"Having said that, we know that occasionally Chinese readers cannot access certain articles on the Chinese-language sites of other foreign media organizations. That may be something we have to live with too, though we hope not."
[Image via Niall Kennedy on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]