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The Chinese government has again blocked access to YouTube just over a year after it shut off access to the site for hosting footage of the Tibet protests.

China's firewall allows sporadic access to services like YouTube, but access was shut off on Monday. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Chinese government was not afraid of the internet - China has more people online than any other nation.

"China's internet is open enough, but also needs to be regulated by law in order to prevent the spread of harmful information and for national security," the spokesman said, according to Reuters.

In August last year YouTube pulled a video of a Free Tibet protest after getting a takedown notice from the International Olympics Committee.

This month is the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule and there have been widespread protests. Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was more outpsoken than usual when he described life in the country as "hell on earth" and said Tibetan culture and religion was "nearing extinction".

Chinese authorities have taken similar action against the BBC in the past. In January they targeted 19 websites, including Google and Baidu, accused of "violating public morality and harming the physical and mental health of youth".

Thailand, Turkey and Pakistan have all previously banned the video sharing site. ®

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