News / Asia

Column: Finding Workarounds as China Squeezes Internet

  • A man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Cangan Blvd. in Tiananmen Square, June 5, 1989.
  • The bodies of dead civilians lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing's Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989.
  • A blood-covered protester holds a Chinese soldier's helmet following violent clashes with military forces during pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989.
  • Pro-democracy demonstrators pitch tents in Beijing's Tiananmen Square before their protests were crushed by the People's Liberation Army on June 3, 1989.
  • A man tries to pull a Chinese soldier away from his comrades as thousands of Beijing citizens turned out to block thousands of troops on their way towards Tiananmen Square, June 3, 1989.
  • A military helicopter drops leaflets above Tiananmen Square, May 22, 1989.
  • Beijing University students wave fists and flags as Chinese military helicopters fly over Tiananmen Square, May 21, 1989.
  • Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang speaks with fasting university students in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, May 19, 1989.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people fill Tiananmen Square in Beijing, May 17, 1989.
  • Beijing University students relax in Tiananmen Square as their hunger strike for democracy begins a fourth day, May 16, 1989.
  • Students shout after breaking through a police blockade during a pro-democracy march to Tiananmen Square, Beijing, May 4 1989.
  • Student demonstrators scuffle with police as they try to break the guard line to march to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, April 27, 1989.
  • Chinese students link arms in solidarity at dawn in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, April 22, 1989.
  • A student leader tries in vain to settle down a crowd of Beijing University students who converged on the Chinese Communist Party headquarters after demonstrating at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, April 19, 1989.
Doug Bernard
It’s become something of a ritual in modern China.

Beginning a week or two before the anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy uprisings in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Chinese authorities begin to squeeze the Internet tighter and tighter, blocking dozens, then hundreds of websites.

Often, the blocked sites belong to international newspapers, TV stations or magazines reporting on the Tiananmen anniversary, or links to search subjects such as “June 4”, “Tiananmen massacre”, or “Goddess of Democracy” – the papier-mâché statue which served as a rallying point for the student protesters.

This year, which marks the 25th anniversary of the protests and their violent suppression, is proving no different.

Recent findings posted at GreatFire.org, a website run by Internet freedom activists, document a growing number of newly blocked websites, and increased filtering of many others, even including the popular domestic Weibo blog service.

Also completely blocked: Google and all its myriad services.

“This current disruption affects Google search, images, translate, Gmail and almost all other Google products,” blogs GreatFire co-founder “Charlie Smith”, using his pseudonym.

“It also affects country-specific services - for example, internet users in China will not be able to access the French version of Google (google.fr) or services being delivered in relation to that domain,” he said.

New tool

But that hasn’t stopped online free-speech activists from developing a new tool that’s busting through China’s Great Firewall block of Google.

Developed by GreatFire engineers, the website can be found here, along with this list of proxy websites and other tools for getting around the Great Firewall.

Charlie Wilson says the site, which uses a strategic technology he calls “collateral freedom,” provides an unblockable path to the main Google site for those within China.  So we decided to put it to the test.

VOA Beijing correspondent William Ide normally uses a Virtual Private Network, or “VPN” to skirt around the many Chinese Internet filters and blocks. He attempted to turn it off and see if he could access Google through normal connections.

He reported he “…was not unable to access gmail or the google search engine,” online, although curiously he could get to Gmail via his iPhone and iPad.

Then he tried Wilson’s GreatFire Google site linked above.

“It worked like a charm,” Ide reported.  “I got through to the search engine just as smoothly as I would using a VPN.”

GreatFire’s Google-buster site isn’t entirely perfect, however.

For example, while it does allow unfiltered access to Google searches, the links returned may be blocked themselves.

Reports VOA’s Bill Ide: “Some of the links that the search pulls up, such as the Wikipedia link for the Tiananmen Square protests are still blocked by the Great Firewall of China. Interestingly, I was able to view Malcom Moore's piece in the Daily Telegraph.”

That story, “The Last Prisoner of the Protests”, details the incarceration of Miao Deshun, a former factory worker who is reportedly the last person to remain imprisoned for his Tiananmen protest activities.
 

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Meow Ming from: Beijing
June 03, 2014 5:33 PM
It is time for a regime change in my motherland - china.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid