More and more emails from China about my site being blocked or excruciatingly slow to load, with comments unavailable. If you cannot comment, please send me an email and I will post it for you. Maybe you should cc Hu Jintao and tell him he’s being an ass.

If you do email me a comment, I may not get to it until tomorrow morning, Arizona time. I’m exhausted.

The Discussion: 45 Comments

it’s possible there might just be general net problems, at least in the western mainland. no issues loading your site (obviously) but took me half an hour to load xinhua this morning… ; )

June 7, 2005 @ 10:00 pm | Comment


In the current climate, calling Hu Jintao an ass may be enough to get you blocked.

June 7, 2005 @ 10:26 pm | Comment

No problem from Beijing today. The day before yesterday could not read. I think these are most likely network problems, but might be related to something else…

June 7, 2005 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

It’s unavailable sometimes. But I’m reading your site through bloglines, so doesn’t matter lah. ๐Ÿ™‚

June 7, 2005 @ 11:28 pm | Comment

I’ve been reading the site for half an hour now with no problems at all.

June 7, 2005 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

I’ve had no problems at all here in Guangxi.

I would be very surprised if you were to be blocked for mentioning that square in BJ. Half the world’s newspapers carried articles and photographs and remained unblocked. While I always enjoy your blog, I think it remains low on the threat to stability scale.

Are you sure there is no other cause? Network problems, etc. as mentioned by others.

June 8, 2005 @ 12:38 am | Comment

Calling HJT an ass will get you blocked? Well, maybe, but there are more interesting things happening on Chinese blogs and other web sites than some guy in Arizona using the A word ๐Ÿ™‚

We’ll be translating some material from mainland blogs over the next few days that provide a bit of food for thought.

For starters, I’ve just put up a translation of some interesting posts on a mainland bbs fighting for the rights of hepatitis B carriers. Using material captured from the intranet of TCL, it shows that mainlanders are not about to be cowed by discriminatory practices, which gives me a more optimistic view of civil society and the Internet in China than some of the comments suggest here.

I’m not about to argue we’re witnessing the flowering of democracy as we know it, but this and several posts to come over the next few days do suggest that for all the talk about registration and cracking down, mainland cyberspace is not about to become a wasteland of government-led propaganda.

And besides, why should we expect regulations to be effective in curtailing blogging when they are ineffective in preventing deaths in coal mines?

June 8, 2005 @ 1:13 am | Comment

we often call him XiaoHu,hehe.
I don’t think be blocked, maybe just net problem in china.
it’s kind of you to allow posting from email,a hard work a.

June 8, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

No problems loading here in Shanghai.

I’ve come to learn that it’s almost always just network problems — the inability of those in charge to keep up with rapid growth and provide uninterrupted quality service.

June 8, 2005 @ 1:44 am | Comment

I’ve got patchy access here in Beijing over the last few days. This morning I could read your front page and comments for the first couple of posts, but then all of a sudden comments started timing out, and then died altogether. Now there’s no problem. I have been completely blocked out, had it partially load, had comments blocked or partically load, and had no restrictions at all. Maybe it’s regional variations. Maybe it’s differences between ISPs. Maybe it’s just infrastructure. Who knows?

June 8, 2005 @ 2:58 am | Comment

Exactly chris, who the hell does know.

My Peking Duck in Shanghai was fine until I tried to open the comments for the post about Jung Chang’s new book and then I suddently couldn’t open anything, then I tried to refresh the site and the entire site wouldn’t download, just got an error message.

I left in for an hour or so then re-entered the site and everything’s fine. Strange is not the word.

June 8, 2005 @ 3:36 am | Comment

Could be that new fangled net nanny software having its “not intended” but technically plausible effect of slowing the internet to a crawl of unusability.

June 8, 2005 @ 4:31 am | Comment

Mike, the same happened to me this morning. The Jung Chang book comments would not fully open and then nothing would open.

I just posteda comment on the 270+ thread and now here and it’s all fine agian.

MAybe I will try clicking on the Jung Chang book comments again when I have finished reading.

It would be a sad business if Richard cannot even mention Chairman Mao.

Tom: could that really happen?

June 8, 2005 @ 4:56 am | Comment

It’s been fine for me in Xi’an since you altered the Tiananmen post.

June 8, 2005 @ 6:02 am | Comment

No problems here deep in Bumf**k, China. Your page loads very quickly, which is all well and good, because it keeps me in touch with the little bit of sanity I have left.

June 8, 2005 @ 7:06 am | Comment

hmm..I made a post to this earlier, but it obviously didn’t show up?

How about this one?

CCP ยฒร™ร„รฃร‚รจยฃยก

June 8, 2005 @ 9:08 am | Comment

It wasn’t a network problem- it’s one particular post, the one on Jung Chang’s new Mao biography. I’ve gotten several emails and comments all saying the same thing — when they try to comment, they get the dreaded “cannot find server” screen. Maybe Jung Chang’s name is too controversial? Or maybe it’s that I called Mr. Hu a bad name. Hu knows?

June 8, 2005 @ 9:51 am | Comment

The Jung Chang Book post is a no go area. If I try to click on it, that’s my Peking Duck access finished.

It’s so scary, it’s like the nanny saying “we don’t want you to read this so if you try then kiss goodbye to the whole site”.

I wonder what the offensive words are, J**g Ch*ng? Try changing the spellings of suspect words Richard and see what happens.

As if you don’t already spend enough time on your website………

June 8, 2005 @ 11:18 am | Comment

Yup, its definitely on in Xinjiang Richard. I was getting “no data” messages the past few days, and every time it cleared up I noticed (because it occasionally sneaked part of the page through) the @/Skw- substitution.

Congratulations, you reached the big time! You’ve finally got some attention. Bask in your 15 minutes of Ministry fame.

June 8, 2005 @ 1:15 pm | Comment


What does @skw mean? Is it somekind of giveaway that censorship software is being used? Do you mean that the cyber nanny’s eye is now focusing on this site?

I don’t want to lose Peking Duck. Wouldn’t it help us China residents if Richard hid potentially controversial posts behind a hyperlink by posting the title only?

June 8, 2005 @ 1:26 pm | Comment

Those are the characters Richard used to mask the words Ti@n@nmen Skware.

June 8, 2005 @ 1:52 pm | Comment

Don’t I feel silly now. Thanks Dave. Shouldn’t you be asleep now by the way? It’s 4 in the morning in China. Or are you on Xinjiang time i.e. 3 hours earlier than Beijing.

June 8, 2005 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

Michael, I’ll do what it takes to keep this site available to readers in China. But I think this is a freak circumstance and that things will be back to normal soon. I would really hate to have to hide text behind hyperlinks – it would take away the whole feel of this site.

June 8, 2005 @ 2:15 pm | Comment

Zoe, I’ll try to play with J**g C***g’s name, but is she that controversial that China would block her name?

June 8, 2005 @ 2:33 pm | Comment

I find it incredibly funny that you are ranting about the U.S. freedoms being taken away, when people in China can’t see parts of your site due to the interference of the Chinese Internet Police. Where’s the logic? ๐Ÿ™‚

June 8, 2005 @ 3:26 pm | Comment

Steve, your point would be legitimate if I was silent about China’s censorship. But as readers can tell you, I am rather outspoken on the subject.

We expect China to restrict its people’s rights. We do not expect America to do the same. Just because China is much worse than the US doesn’t mean we should sit silently while our rights are taken away. Do you want to set the bar at China’s level?

June 8, 2005 @ 3:43 pm | Comment

No problem from Beijing on a govt network (cernet) right now. And if you’re seeing this, no problem commenting.

June 8, 2005 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

Ellen, how about the Jung Chang post below? That’s where the problem has been.

June 8, 2005 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

I agree, it seems to be that Jung Chang post. Which reminds of stories about how words like ‘freedom’ and ‘Uzbekistan’ disappear off Google and how people find themselves locked out for 20-odd minutes if they dare search for such things.

June 8, 2005 @ 6:21 pm | Comment

It seems this week theyre cracking down on everything…. As of maybe today it seems most internet cafes in shanghai have a little notice (same one everywhere) asking for your passport/id… they scan your password before you can use the internet. jeez

June 9, 2005 @ 12:36 am | Comment

Control, control, control….all in the name of what? stability?

Did the nanny take a dose of amphetamines before six-fore or something? I hope it wears off soon.

June 9, 2005 @ 3:07 am | Comment

before you go the self-sensor/hide behind links/etc etc route, why not ask people if they are having any network trouble with noncontroversial material….

to the best of my knowledge no nanny can block *half* a page from loading…the text portion of your page maybe, maybe weighs in at 10k, and to live scan for keywords and stop that small an amount midload you’d have to have a seriously impressive server.

plus, a few people have mentioned that it’s on one minute off the next. that implies network issues, not the nanny. and as popular as you are, it’s unlikely they’re putting that much effort into the english material (with the obvious exception of google) when there’s a rather surprising amount of chinese language material (bbs stuff mostly) they need to remove every day….

it’s also possible that your server isn’t set up to handle the amount of bandwidth you get…if it’s usually the most recent post and/or the most popular (aka the one currently getting the highest amount of concurrent hits) that’s having problems that might have something to do with it. you might consider asking your host if there have been traffic issues with your site

June 9, 2005 @ 9:57 am | Comment

Echo, according to the emails I’m getting and the comments above virtually all the problems were with two posts. Every other post loaded fine. As soon as I re-spelled Ti@n@nmen Sq. one of the two posts loaded fine. This only occured with readers in China, so it’s not my own server bandwidth, which would have affected everyone.

I don’t believe they are censoring my site intentionally. It is being done by a computer that recognizes key words. For two years, people have been writing to me about individual posts being blocked on occasion, but this was an extreme example.

June 9, 2005 @ 10:03 am | Comment

What is Hu Jintao’s email address?

June 9, 2005 @ 2:04 pm | Comment

richard, while anything is certainly possible, most of the people have not provided enough information to make an accurate assessment. some said that even the t@an posts only partly loaded. some mentioned in another thread they were unable to see your site when using a proxy. both of these things are not nanny issues.

a good question to ask would be : how many other pages did you read at that time that contained the same key words? if tm stalled the duck but had no problem with, say, the guardian or eswn, it’s not the nanny. if the problem was universal with tm pages but all other pages loaded quickly than it would be nanny.

I had problems loading the duck this morning. but I also had problems loading/partial loads with xinhua, the guardian, and david byrne’s journal. sometimes china net just needs to be badgered.

June 9, 2005 @ 10:27 pm | Comment


June 10, 2005 @ 1:00 am | Comment

Echo, are you a computer systems person? I’m afraid I’m not at all so the cyber nanny’s methods are utterly incomprehensible to me.

I see and, I think, I understand your above points but it sure was wierd when the TSM post was changed and suddenly the site was normal again.

Also, I’ve tried opening the Jung Chang book comments several times (not for a few days though) and it effectively put the site out of action after I tried.

June 10, 2005 @ 5:28 am | Comment

Echo will do anything to prove the Cybernanny had nothing to do with blocking keywords. He or she is a perennial apologist for the CCP (not an insult, just a fact) and never gives in on any point. Echo has made up her/his mind that the scores of people who wrote to me and commented, each one with the exact same problem with the exact same two posts, do not constitute enough “evidence” that there is a censorship issue. He or she will only be satisfied if I can provide a photo of Hu Jintao sitting in front of a computer pushing a button prominently marked “Block Peking Duck’s posts on Tiananmen Square!”

Sorry to sound annoyed, but I can’t tolerate intransigence.

June 10, 2005 @ 7:48 am | Comment

Ahhh I see. I thought she was talking like a systems person. Yes, intransigence. is indeed all too common these days.

No there was something definitely up with the mentioned posts. Anyway, several emails from China all saying the same thingpretty much blows echo’s argument out of the water.

You must a very loyal and solid group of readers if some of them are taking the time to email you personally on such matters. That’s great.

June 10, 2005 @ 8:36 am | Comment

Mike1, for whatever reason I get many, many emails every day from readers. I really appreciate them – they lead me to great stories and help me make this site better.

June 10, 2005 @ 9:08 am | Comment

Dear Richard,
Have you considered posting all of the comments of your Jung Chang thread, on a NEW thread with a different title?
You might consider trying that, so that your readers in the PRC might get a chance to read all the comments on the Jung Chang thread.
I suggest, just try it again, post all of those comments on a new thread with a different title, and see how it goes…

June 10, 2005 @ 10:07 am | Comment

That’s great to hear. You must be very proud. From what I’ve seen, your commentors are a very diverse lot and that’s what I was most impressed with when I first visited the other week (I was Googling Jerome Keating which led me here).

Unfortunately, a lot of websites like this suffer from too much verbal abuse and name-calling. Don’t know what the rest of the site is like but I read one post by NIU4 I think and a couple of commeters were apologising to each other for misunderstandings! That’s the first time I’ve seen anything like that.

Anyway, sorry to go on, I’m now a regular as well now.

June 10, 2005 @ 10:14 am | Comment

mike : a few people posted that they had problems with the t@am@n (changed version) as well. that does not make sense with keyword blocking.

richard, thank you for keeping such an open mind and not turning my attempt at helping with your problem into a personal attack.

-> Echo will do anything to prove the Cybernanny had nothing to do with blocking keywords.

so, because I think that your site might not have nanny problems I must not believe there is censorship? faulty logic. I stated very clearly that I did not know and thought you should get more complete information from people. I gave technologically sound reasons for this.

here’s a cut and paste : “if tm stalled the duck but had no problem with, say, the guardian or eswn, it’s not the nanny. if the problem was universal with tm pages but all other pages loaded quickly than it would be nanny.”

->He or she is a perennial apologist for the CCP (not an insult, just a fact) and never gives in on any point.

nevermind that this is the, what, third post I’ve commented on.
nevermind that I publish a blog in which I rather relentlessly write about the major problems in the ccp-led system.
nevermind that I said ‘if x happens it’s the nanny, if y happens it’s not, why don’t you get more information’ in an attempt to find an actual solution to a problem that you said you have been having for two years (nevermind that the keyword technology is fairly new).
nevermind that the only thread I’ve really commented on other than this one was a call for opinion and somehow my arguments kept getting turned into me saying the ccp was good when all I was trying to say was at least they’re not shooting people.

if people keep turning something I say into something else so I try to clarify how, exactly, is that me being stubborn?

if a person tries to put things in a bit of perspective and you bash that person, make gross generalizations, and (mis)label them, what does that make you?

I *hate* what the system has done to the people I care about, I have a love/hate relationship with the country I’m in and trying with an open mind to figure it out, or at least not go completely crazy, and I come here and you call me a friggin apologist when I try and point out that while the net nanny is out in full force I think you need more evidence before concluding it’s the problem with this site.

I read, and somehow you seem not to have, that some people had trouble accessing your site through a proxy. perhaps I am incorrect in assuming as the reader suggested that it was one of the proxies designed to break out of the firewall. if not : how, exactly, would the net nanny effect this individual?

are you capable of shades of gray or is this a black and white site, good or evil, right or wrong…

June 10, 2005 @ 11:46 am | Comment

Okay echo, I’ll apologize for bashing you, but there was history behind it. You’ve posted more than three timesd, and the last time I felt you kept coming back with the same circular argument without hearing a word I said, and I thought you were defending the CCP excessively, refusing to hear my points.

I heard from more than 10 commenters and emailers that the TS post opened half-way, then stopped. Then I heard from about the same number in regard to the Jung Chang. Only those. I changed headline for the TS post and instantly they could access it, literally seconds after I made the change.

So I get frustrated when you post more than once that you think the problem is with my server in the US and not the censorship system in China. Again, if I got a bit annoyed it was based on our last interface, and I apologize if I misrepresented you.

I always try to see shades of gray on this web site, and there is never pure good or pure evil. There’s a lot of nuance on nearly every issue.

June 10, 2005 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

Echo, please communicate with me by email if you’d like to continue this discussion. Thanks.

June 10, 2005 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

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