China will soon be allowed to have Facebook, though only in certain areas, the BBC reported on Sept. 24. The South China Morning Post noted this morning that the government will unlock Facebook, Twitter and other restricted websites but only in the free-trade zone of Shanghai.
The country isn't trying to do right by its citizen by allowing these sites. This move to make foreigners feel more at home. A government official told the South China Morning Post that when foreigners visit the trade-free zone and aren't able to access Facebook or the New York Times, it would lead them to wonder whether the zone is special or not compared to the rest of China.
The concern for making foreigners feel at home stems from foreign telecommunications being invited into the free-trade zone, which can potentially lead to "significant financial and economic reforms." The government will also be taking bids from foreign companies to provide internet in this zone.
The free-trade zone was just announced in late August and only covers less than 20 miles. However, more government sources told the paper that the zone could be expanded over several years, if this first push proves to be successful in restructuring China's economy.
Quartz notes that Facebook and Twitter have been blocked since 2009 after riots broke out that were blamed on the social media sites. The New York Times was banned in 2012 after an article was published about the finances of the now-president of China.