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“In China they pay very close attention to to [Internet] routing,” said Mr. Rice, “You can do some very clever and naughty things” by interfering with it.

He said some botched or premature effort by Chinese authorities to re-route Web traffic might be another explanation for Thursday’s outage.

On April 9, 2010, nearly 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, including that of many U.S. government and military sites, was briefly redirected through computer servers in China because of DNS routing instructions issued by a Chinese telecommunications company, according to a congressional commission that looked into the incident.