Cutting off access to YouTube on the Mainland in light of recent crackdowns on protests in Tibet and nearby provinces may do more harm than good to China's image in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. From CNET:
Protests break out in some nation around the globe and one of the first things a media-shy government does--just after sending in riot police--is pull the plug on YouTube.
The latest example is China's handling of protests in Tibet. The Chinese government has blocked access to YouTube in that country after scores of clips showing violence between police and protesters were posted to the site, according to hundreds of reports found on Google News.
Scores of other media outlets have been blocked or partially blacked out in China, including broadcasts of CNN, the BBC World, and Google News. But it's YouTube that gets all the ink.
In an example of YouTube's influence, blocking access to the video-sharing site is now a sort of scarlet letter for governments. The site, which allows individuals to communicate with mass audiences, has become a symbol of free speech to many, and governments that forbid it are immediately branded around the world as repressive.