22 January 2012

First hand experience of China's Great Firewall

During my short visit to China I was fortunate to have access to the Internet in my hotel room. Despite knowing in advanced that many of the things I would normall do on the Net were not accessible, I was still surprised about what I could and could not access.

Gmail was not blocked, however nearly all images that were in my emails were blocked. BBC news was not blocked. I was told that the pages in Chinese were all blocked. Wikipedia also not blocked. My Google Reader worked well which allowed me to read the content of

As expected YouTube, Facebook, Blogger, Google+, Twitter, Livemocha all blocked. My friend described this as blocking “Things 老外lǎowài Like”. While this trivialises censorship in China it is an accurate and perceptive description of how inconvenient annoying the Great Firewall was.

I did try and succeed using a web proxy once. While it worked it was excessively slow (it was as fast as dial-up Internet speeds) and did not work the next day. I have heard that there are better solutions to accessing content and I would definitely do this if I were spending a longer time in China. 

Below are some links to articles and documentaries about China's Great Firewall.

The Other Internet – Beyond China’s Great Firewall This is an interesting podcast from the BBC.

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