I have to say, at this moment my loathing of the CCP is approaching 2003 levels. Between the block of my site and the ongoing weakness of the Chinese Internet, which I expect to go on through October, from home it takes a full five to ten minutes for me to get onto my site using a proxy. Then ever 20 minutes or so, the proxy insists on directing my browser to its advertisers’ links, each one taking another eternity to load. It just took me about an hour to put up the last post, more than 20 minutes of which were spent waiting and then dealing with the proxy.
In his superb interview with NPR’s Fresh Air a few months ago, Atlantic columnist James Fallows said the firewall worked by grinding people down, wearing them out so that eventually they say to hell with it and go to some other site, one that isn’t blocked. He was so spot on. For the past two weeks I’ve only made occasional spot visits to the site, not wanting to go through all the aggravation. (And for some reason this is true mainly in regard my home connection; at work and at coffee shops with wifi it has been slow but nothing like the way it is at home.)
My heart really goes out to all the bloggers on the left sidebar like Mark in China, Inside Out China, China Beat and all other blogspot sites. Nothing is as irritating as wanting to communicate with the people you know and not being allowed to do so. The fact that there’s no ostensible reason, that the decision to block seems totally random and irrational – well, that’s just salt rubbed into the wounds. Meanwhile, site traffic is down 50 percent from two weeks ago and I feel like throwing in the towel.
That said, I won’t throw in the towel. My plan is to keep posting until the TAM posts drift onto the next page. Then, if the ban continues I have plans in place to move to a new server. If after that they continue to block the site, we’ll know this is somebody’s decision and not just some mindless computer-generated censorship. I try to be fair about censorship here; the truth is, most Chinese are delighted to see all the options the Internet brings them after so many years of isolation and insulation. They see the glass as more than half full. But when it’s you who are being censored, it’s hard to feel objective about the censorship. Whether the Chinese people like it or not, it’s still an insidious form of mind control, and a symbol of the party’s deeply embedded sense of inferiority and helplessness.
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.