China is a difficult country for media to maneuver, especially foreign ones which may bring to attention some issues that the Chinese government doesn’t want thrust into the limelight.

The government blocked the New York Times in October last year, and now it seems that move may actually bear fruit after the media giant admitted its Chinese-language website is under review.

New York Times CEO Mark Thompson told Reuters that the Chinese-language website is a money-losing operation, and will therefore be kept under “constant review” — which could mean the end of the road for the site in the not-too-distant future.

“The fact that we can’t be seen officially inside China means the revenue is not as large as we would have wished it to have been,” Thompson told Reuters, adding that Chinese officials haven’t indicated in any way that the New York Times site could be unblocked soon.

China blocked the New York Times after the paper published a report on the immense wealth that former Premier Wen Jiabao’s family built up during his tenure.

Other foreign publications to come under fire recently include Reuters and the Wall Street Journal — which Chinese Web monitoring site GreatFire reported were banned after they reported on news of JPMorgan Chase’s link to Lily Chang, the daughter of former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

In a defiant response to Chinese censorship, GreatFire launched a mirror site for Reuters China, which it says can be accessed within the country without the use of any circumvention tools. However, this move, though definitely a boon for readers in the country, wouldn’t help the publications’ business models — which would require some sort of working relationship with advertisers and such.

With the New York Times forced to make a decision on its Chinese-language website and probably having to cease its operations in the absence of revenue streams, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt may have been too optimistic in predicting that government censorship will be wiped out in 10 years.

New York Times CEO says Chinese language site under review [Reuters]

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