Is TPD and other sites being blocked to meet quotas?

Interesting viewpoint on why certain sites that ordinarily would be left alone are now being added to the censor’s list. If the blogger’s hypothesis is true, this site may be permanently blocked in China no matter what I do. Sigh.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 26 Comments

Time to change the name to “The 红烧肉”

The censors might hesitate before targeting the Great Helmsman’s favorite dish.

June 29, 2009 @ 7:55 pm | Comment

Hi, I sincerely hope my hypothesis is wrong. But it looks at the very least plausible.

See the positive side, now we have a good response to the old pro-CCP argument: “the system is going in the right direction, there is more freedom now than a few years ago…”. Well a few years back your blog was open, and now it is blocked, what about that.

Anyway, I am thinking these days of a new solution, which is not ideal but which I might implement soon. It is like this: I am planning to open a parallel blog (call it hongshaorou.com, for example), in a free hosting service like wordpress.com, and then I will run the 2 blogs in parallel, double posting on both sites, so at least one of them is accessible from China. Of course, this is a sub-optimal solution because the links and comments will be now shared -diluted- between the 2 sites. But cant think of anything better.

Anyway, keep you eyes open to see what the guys of Anonymous are preparing on Wednesday. There is a chance in a wan that this will change things for us.

June 29, 2009 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

Maybe you pissed off some CCP offical who has the power to censor your site.

June 30, 2009 @ 2:40 am | Comment

Nikola Tesla

June 30, 2009 @ 3:37 am | Comment

@Uln
“Anyway, I am thinking these days of a new solution,”
Hhhhmmmm……… what about this

A system for Automatic (massive?) replication of blogs sites, parallel posting, random IP and URL generation, random host site location (even geographically), automatic redirection when blocked, alerts when one of replicas is blocked + indication of 100+ replicas newly generated (URL+IP).

Maybe implemented in a cooperative way like SETI@Home? Massive distributed system.

Anonymizing system to boot too.

The GFW would have to block so many IP and URL that it will become overloaded.

Just wait for IPv6, the greater number of IP available will make it more fun.

Just my two cents.

June 30, 2009 @ 6:05 am | Comment

Wow, that sounds like a good idea for a coordinated attack. Perhaps the “Anonymous Netizens” are considering something like this for their protest.

The thing is, even if this might be technically feasible, it wouldn’t serve any purpose for me. My objective is not to attack the system, I think it is up to the Chinese to change their system if they feel like it. As long as I can voice my opinion on the internet I am a happy man.

Also, although your idea might be able to beat the GFW, it would not go a long way in my case.The police would take like half an hour to find out where I live, and then I would be kindly invited to go back to my country to play with the internet there…

June 30, 2009 @ 11:03 am | Comment

By the way, forget my previous idea. I have been trying to do the wordpress.com thing only to find out that they are also completely blocked in China (I mean the wordpress Blog Hosting service, not all wordpress blogs in general). I should have known.

Since Blogspot and Typepad and all the others also get the same treatment, I am not sure if it is worth it now to go through the trouble of opening a parallel site in a free blog-hosting service. I will wait and see.

June 30, 2009 @ 12:06 pm | Comment

@uln

The idea does not attack anything or anyone. Actually it totally passive with respect to other sites or services.

It is just… a novel way to make information available with higher reliability and redundancy to address some….ahem… lackings in the current telecommunications infrastructre in some areas of the planet.

June 30, 2009 @ 12:57 pm | Comment

Better.

… lackings in the information distribution and communication infrastructure in some parts of the planet.

June 30, 2009 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

OK, agree in a way it is not really an attack, but just a survival technique.
But on second read, some points don’t sound feasible:

>> random host site location (even geographically)

How do you manage to do that? You would need to have an unlimited number of servers in different locations in the World. Or even if they are in the same location, it is still a problem. Buying and running a server is not free, and the Chinese government can block each of them faster than you can take out ur $$ to buy a new one.

Still, there is something in the idea, if a practical solution is found. It could be used to create a special service, call it Unblockable Hosting Service, where bloggers from countries with censorship would be able to open their websites. The cost of the operation would be sponsored by some philantropist like G. Soros or other.

No seriously, it would not be a bad idea for a Harvard project.

July 1, 2009 @ 1:24 am | Comment

@ULN – Isn’t that what Freegate is?

July 1, 2009 @ 5:58 am | Comment

FOARP – I never tried Freegate but from what I read it is just a software that allows you to automatically connect through web proxies, so that you can view blocked websites. The result is similar to using Tor or Hotspotshield, or any web proxy.

On the paper this kind of solution is fine but it has one problem: it requires final users to take an active role (install the software). Experience shows that even if is well known that there are easy solutions to view blocked sites, most people still don’t use them. My guess it is a mixture of laziness, hi-tech aversion, and also the excess of info flowing on the net means that one missing site is quickly forgotten.

The idea we were considering is a bit different: To make a special blog hosting service (like a special Blogspot) that cannot be blocked, and users can always open it without taking any special action. I am not sure this can be done, but if it can it would definitely be useful for a lot of people.

July 1, 2009 @ 11:40 am | Comment

@uln
“How do you manage to do that? You would need to have an unlimited number of servers in different locations in the World. Or even if they are in the same location, it is still a problem. Buying and running a server is not free, and the Chinese government can block each of them faster than you can take out ur $$ to buy a new one.”

No if you implemented it in a similar way as SETI@home. A Myriad of volunteered machines do the hosting. Similar to a botnet, a blog botnet. Keeping posts up to date through all blog replicas would be one problem, but I think it could be possible. Some delays would be unavoidable though.

I agree is a complex project.

July 1, 2009 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

Interesting that SETI thing, I just checked their site. I think this way it would be possible to avoid the IP block, as you would have different subnets all the time. However, this does not solve the simple and very stupid mechanism of the URL block. The final user would still have to type in *some* URL to access those blogs, and that URL can be swiftly blocked by the authorities.

I am guessing the solution would be a lil software that adds a button to the users navigator, and on pressing this button it gets the URL (randomly changed every X minuites) of the desired blog.

Of course, this kind of defeats the whole point, which was to have a site go through the Wall without active participation of the final user.

July 1, 2009 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

Ah, what’s the point. The brighter dudes can already circumvent the GFW, and the others (the vast majority) are probably not interested in surfing beyond the boundaries of China anyway.

Richard, did your readership go down a lot since this site was banned?

July 3, 2009 @ 9:59 am | Comment

How’s this for mad black-ops – put copies of Freegate into the DVD/Academy Award Review version of Hollywood films. When played from the DVD nothing happens, but when downloaded onto a computer hard-drive they’ll ask to install Freegate.

What d’ya think? The studios would love something like this, as it would motivate the PRC government to finally cut down on piracy.

July 3, 2009 @ 3:47 pm | Comment

Poet, readership dropped more than 50 percent. Usually more than 60 percent of my traffic comes from China.

July 3, 2009 @ 7:10 pm | Comment

Ouch.

July 4, 2009 @ 3:44 pm | Comment

Happy 4th of July, Richard!

July 4, 2009 @ 3:46 pm | Comment

Accidentally responded to your Happy 4th of July message in the Laowai thread.

Yeah, losing all that traffic hurts. That’s partly why I’m a bit turned off from blogging at the moment, but will soon get back into it. New post is brewing already.

July 4, 2009 @ 4:06 pm | Comment

I find it so bizarre that things like TPD getting blocked and Green Dam are happening at the same time that government outlets like GT are pushing the boundaries of acceptable discourse. Maybe it’s all the false friendly face to the outside, but I think it’s more likely the kind of factionalism amongst the ruling class that we’ve encountered so many times before.

July 4, 2009 @ 4:08 pm | Comment

@Otherlisa – Actually, I’ve been thinking for a while now that this is the CCP strategy: eliminate competing sources of information, and introduce sources of information under its control which appear to serve the need which caused people to turn to the alternate sources in the first place. Hence, during the Weng’an disturbances, discussion of the riots was suppressed on all boards except those controlled by the government (such as Strong Country and TieXue), where weeding of the comments and government plants turned the discussion along lines favourable to the government.

July 4, 2009 @ 4:27 pm | Comment

@FOARP, yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I think that may be the overall strategy. But I still wonder how much unanimity there is on many of these issues (green dam being but one). The Peoples’ Daily/GT article about gays in China had a nice oblique slam of Green Dam in it, which to me was as interesting as the overall topic/tone of the article.

July 4, 2009 @ 4:30 pm | Comment

quite good. by lavishing huge amount of money on censorship the authorities have awakened a number of people from the new generation who are against any type of walls.

July 4, 2009 @ 6:29 pm | Comment

Well, Danwei appears to be blocked now as well. Guys, it seems unlikely that this kind of thing isn’t connected in some way. Strangely foreign news services like the BBC remain unblocked, but this seems likely to be acceptable because firstly they have much more clout with the government, and secondly ordinary Chinese people have been ‘inoculated’ against them by government brainwashing. Richard, if I were you, considering that you’re planning to leave the country anyway, I’d be tempted to pull a little one man demo. Nothing fancy, just standing outside the relevant ministry with a placard – this is, after all, a pretty Chinese way of doing things.

July 4, 2009 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Funny, I was putting up a post on Danwei as you were commenting. The censorship is really getting out of hand and it’s more irrational now than ever. So much evidence of tightening the online noose, while at the same time people’s voices are getting louder and creating media uproars – the furor over Green Dam was unprecedented, as it was so critical of the government and specifically of its censorship. Unlike, say, the Starbuck’s uproar. And the “Netizens’” reactions made it into the news (and not just the GT). A very odd and mystifying situation.

I’ll consider the placard idea, but I don’t want to ruin my chances of coming back here – not unless I really believed it would make a difference in ending the censorship here.

I’m also closing this thread, please feel free to continue on the new censorship thread above.

July 4, 2009 @ 10:42 pm | Comment

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