[Reuters]

Facebook, Twitter and other websites deemed sensitive and blocked by the Chinese government will be accessible in a planned free-trade zone (FTZ) in Shanghai, the SouthChina Morning Post reported on Tuesday.

Citing unidentified government sources, the Hong Kong newspaper also said authorities would welcome bids from foreign telecoms firms for licences to provide Internet services in the zone.

China’s ruling Communist Party aggressively censors the Internet, routinely deleting online postings and blocking access to websites it deems inappropriate or politically sensitive.

Facebook and Twitter were blocked by Beijing in mid-2009 following deadly riots in the western province of Xinjiang that authorities say were abetted by the social networking sites. The New York Times has been blocked since reporting last year that the family of then-Premier Wen Jiabao had amassed a huge fortune.

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