The Great Firewall of China

While visiting Beijing for ten days recently, it was interesting to see what worked and what didn’t on the Net.

My own site, Sociate, was no problem this time, even though it was blocked during my first visit to Beijing back in 2003 — a strange fact I took as a sort of compliment.

Google and Gmail were also no problems at all, and I didn’t get proxied to the Chinese Google sites. Everything worked just as it does in the U.S. there, which was a pleasant surprise.

Wikipedia, which I thought had been unblocked, was again blocked. Turns out it’s been blocked for almost a year, per Wikpedia expert Andrew Lih, who is writing a book on its history and is now living in Beijing.

I thought I could blog, because going to my WordPress.com dashboard worked fine, but when I followed the link to try to post, it wouldn’t work. So something weird was going on there. And everything at blogspot.com was invisible.

Invisible, that is, until I installed Anchorfree’s Hotspot Shield, which creates a local VPN, thus letting you go anywhere on the Net, even from within China. The quid pro quo is that it puts a thin banner across web pages, so I used it sparingly: only when I wanted to access the taboo sites.

All in all, very interesting to see. (Note to China’s AccessMasters: at least open up Wikipedia again!)

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About Jerry Michalski

Lateral thinker, itinerant troublemaker, convener, idea mill.
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