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Reading from China?

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I wanted to post some observations about bikes in China from my recent trip, but that post will have to wait until I am able to collect my thoughts a little better. I was wide awake most of the night, and now I can barely keep my eyes open as I am catching up on a seemingly endless stream of email. I am feeling way more jetlagged today than I did a couple days ago when I first returned, but I should be back to normal soon. I will spare you all today though, since I don’t have the focus to write even a semi-coherent post at the moment.

I do, however, want to throw out a quick question. I’m curious how many of you are reading this blog from somewhere in mainland China. I was able to access Blogger from one hotel while I was over there, but from every other location I tried, anything on the .blogspot subdomain was blocked. I suppose that some of you read this, and other Blogger blogs, from a feed reader (in which case you won’t be able to comment here), but I know from the stats that a few people each month visit directly from China. So I guess I am just curious… is Blogger blocked in certain regions of China and not others? Maybe it was just the Internet access at that one particular hotel, but I am curious why I was able to get through in one location and not in others. Oh well, once I make the switch from Blogger to WordPress on a dedicated URL, blockage in China will no longer be an issue. Now, if only I could find the time to make that big move.

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  1. Anonymous February 10, 2010 at 2:14 pm -  Reply

    China's firewall is a curious beast. The most interesting aspect of it that I know of is it examines all traffic coming to your IP address, and if it finds something objectionable, it can block all your traffic for a short period of time.

    The people behind the firewall also sometimes decide to block certain sites/domains for months at a time, without any immediately obvious cause.

    I believe is also blocked (or else it's on the list of sites which frequently get blocked), but on your own URL you should be okay (unless you start posting a lot of content objectionable to the Chinese government, of course).

  2. Paul Souders February 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm -  Reply

    I lived in China for a year (2006-2007). During that time they blocked sites like but not So I could post to my blog but not read from it.

    They also blacklisted my personal [apolitical, US-hosted] domain. So just because I didn't post anything "objectionable" didn't mean diddly. For example I noticed that lots of bicycle racing sites were inexplicably blocked

    Many hotels and apartment buildings catering to foreigners use a different firewall, with fewer or no blacklisted sites. Your traffic is (always) monitored however. If someone objects to something you're looking at, they can throttle those sites or all traffic to your IP.

    There are also regional variations to all these firewalls.

    The spotty, regional, undocumented nature of the firewalls makes them more effective, because you're never sure what's happening or why.

  3. ian… February 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm -  Reply

    Are China's firewalls designed to protect their burgeoning motor industry? (just kidding!)

    Like Paul found in China, at my place of work here in the UK, the firewall blocks out Blogspot sites, but not Blogger.

    We're all looking forward to your post on the trip, when your jetlag subsides James.

    And in particular, wonder whether you found hope for bicycle culture in China – or is it getting 4 wheeled for the foreseeable?

  4. Alan February 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm -  Reply

    Yes, access really depends on where you are located… when all else fails, try GAppProxy.. You essentially setup a little proxy server on Google App Server. Really saved me from boredom while I was in china. Best thing since sliced bread, or sliced tofu in China 🙂

  5. Darryl February 10, 2010 at 11:10 pm -  Reply

    I'd like to hear about your experiences of cycling in China. I'll look for it on your blog, but please also send me your story at Would it be okay with you if I shared your China experience with my viewers?

  6. James T. February 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm -  Reply

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I travel to China once or twice a year and new sites are blocked or opened every time. Unpredictable is right.

    Paul, I was able to access Twitter through Hootsuite for a few days and then it just stopped working at the same location. What you mentioned about moinitoring at the hotel was probably the case.

    Ian, there is always hope, but it does seem like everyone wants to "step up" from a bicycle. More to come on that.

    Alan, thanks for the tip on GAppProxy. I might have to try that next time.

    Darryl, just to be clear, I was over there working, not on a cycling trip.

  7. MarvinK February 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm -  Reply

    My experience was also different in upscale western hotels than elsewhere in China. In addition to more open internet, you get more TV channels.

  8. Malcolm February 26, 2010 at 10:45 pm -  Reply

    Hi, I live in GZ and have no problem with your new site. Blogspot and WordPress hosted sites are blocked though I can read them through an RSS reader-but photos on blocked sites like Flickr and Picasa don’t show. The ways of the GFC are gnomic.

    For accessing blocked sites, you can go the proxy route, set up a relay through your home system, or just get TOR, which, though slow, works.

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