The amended version of the speech appeared on the website of the China Daily newspaper and leading internet portals such as Sina.com and Sohu.com.

Earlier, while carrying a live broadcast of the address, state-run CCTV abruptly cut away from its coverage and back to the studio after the Chinese translator said the word "communism".

But the full transcript of Obama's address did appear on some Chinese websites, apparently slipping past the attention of China's internet police.

Sensitive territory

The US president's comments struck politically-sensitive territory for China's communist rulers, who despite three decades of economic reforms keep a tight grip on power and on the country's media.

China's communist leaders keep a tight rein on media and the internet [GALLO/GETTY]
Recently the government has stepped up a campaign against what it sees as undesirable content on the internet, shutting down more than 200 websites in recent days.

The campaign, ostensibly against online pornography, has been seen by critics as part of a wider effort to stifle dissent at the start of a year of sensitive anniversaries.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the communist party coming to power, as well as the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.