Twitter blocked in China

Michael Anti was certainly prophetic.

Twitter is a new thing in China. The censors need time to figure out what it is. So enjoy the last happy days of twittering before the fate of Youtube descends on it one day.


Seemed as if 50 percent of the tweets recently have been about Tiananmen Square. I guess this was inevitable.

Update: Hotmail was blocked late this afternoon as well, and I can’t get onto Bing either. These could be entirely unrelated things, perhaps just a server issue or odd coincidence or…. We all know how erratic and irrational and unpredictable the Chinese Internet can be. That said, I’m suspicious as hell.

Oh, Flickr, too.

Update, Wednesday 11.30Am: Hotmail works now.

From today’s Times:

The South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper based in Hong Kong that has frequently featured articles on Tiananmen and other sensitive issues, has also seen its distribution on the Chinese mainland curbed in advance of the anniversary on Thursday. And some Beijing readers of last weekend’s edition of The International Herald Tribune discovered that an inside page of the newspaper with an article on the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious leader, was missing.

The anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, in which army troops killed hundreds of student demonstrators, workers and ordinary citizens, is one of a series of politically sensitive dates this year that have provoked sweeping security measures by Chinese officials.

In recent days, the government has detained a number of political dissidents seen as threats to public order during the anniversary period, including one who had released an open letter complaining about economic hardship visited on former Tiananmen demonstrators who were jailed after the crackdown.

While Hotmail is back, Bling is still down. The Times piece says Microsoft’s wasn’t working.

The Discussion: 42 Comments

It’s about time. It definitely has more subversive power than most of the other sites they are blocking.

June 2, 2009 @ 6:30 pm | Comment

With so many blocking they are going to miss the Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web 4.0 etc. revolution.

June 2, 2009 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

Reminds me of 300 movie.

“The thousands censors of the Chinese empire descend upon you…..”

“Twitters! Relase your tweets!!!”
“Come and get them!!!”

June 2, 2009 @ 6:53 pm | Comment

so was a couple of weeks ago.
i had only one follower/netfriend on it, and was so sad to learn the fact.

June 2, 2009 @ 7:35 pm | Comment

la maladie chinoise. building walls everywhere. what is it with the chinese elites that they are so wall-fetishy no matter which century?

June 2, 2009 @ 8:42 pm | Comment

Hotmail is blocked, too, by the way, and the entire Chinese Internet has gone glacial, with some sites demanding infinite patience as they load. Scrabble on Facebook is particularly problematic, 9 out of ten times refusing to load.

Frost, blogspot has been blocked off and on since January 2003, so no surprise there.

June 2, 2009 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

Great Chinese Firewall, GCF(tm) software update?

June 2, 2009 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

I’m in Beijing, and it’s been blocked but I have a way around it. Most expats know how to do it. Download Tor Vidalia and then FoxyProxy. Voila!

June 2, 2009 @ 9:05 pm | Comment

I’m enjoying watching the outpouring of rage and armchair rebellion this has spawned. Twitter blocked — my god, China really doesn’t respect human rights! And Flickr is blocked too! This is our generation’s June Fourth! Quickly, everyone add the #FuckGFW hashtag to your tweets — The Man hates it when you do that! And don’t forget, Thursday is White T-Shirt Day. Freeeeeeeeedom!

June 2, 2009 @ 9:13 pm | Comment


Sending these tweets is asking the twitter to be blocked by the GFW That makes it unfair for the people who actually uses for legitimate purposes, doesn’t it?

June 2, 2009 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

[…] flooding in from around the internet have confirmed that Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, Live, and Bing (Microsoft’s new search […]

June 2, 2009 @ 9:48 pm | Pingback

@Pugster – Let me get this straight, sending tweets protesting the block is likely to get Twitter blocked? Pure genius.

Really, fuck the Chinese communist party with a rusty bayonet, they’re a grisly bunch of old bastards as far as I’m concerned. The plus side on this of course, is that the more the CCP tries to tighten up on the internet (especially with a product as diamond as Twitter) the more they’ll encourage people to try to get around it.

Richard: these are the guys you work for. Is Global Times going to cover this story?

June 2, 2009 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

FOARP, my office was in a mild state of chaos today because many of the people use hotmail. They were quite unhappy. I hope GT and CD do cover the story – it wouldn’t surprise me if they did, though how far they would go I can’t say.

But FOARP, to point to the “Communist Party” and foam at the mouth and associate anyone involved with the blocking is a bit extreme, like my blasting the US Defense Department news department for the evil behavior at Abu Ghraib. The Communist Party is made up of tectonic plates rubbing against one another and you can’t definite it as a monolith. Meanwhile, its citizens don’t seem too hysterical about it, and it is their country. A hefty percentage of this blog is about censorship in China and I have never stopped for an instant, as with this post. But you have to keep it in perspective. Chinese people who see comments like yours are going to laugh and say, “Look at how these white foreign guys get bent out of shape and rend their garments as we, the people of China, go about our business.” Now, that’s not an entirely fair argument either, and that’s why I keep complaining and posting. But there are limits, you can’t just take a shotgun approach and scream Fuck the CCP. Well, you can and you did, but that tone and that extreme attitude will look like more irrational hysteria to the people here on the ground for whom this is chiefly a nuisance they can easily get around if they so choose.

Flickr is banned again too, by the way, stupid dicks.

June 2, 2009 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

I feel extremely legitimate today. Anybody else?

June 2, 2009 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

@Richard – If someone worked for the US defence department at the time of Abu Ghraib then Rumsfeld would have been their boss, no? Are you saying that people in the department of defence news department would have no questions to answer if they, say, wrote or edited a story which they knew to be false about Abu Ghraib, or did not think the story worth writing about? And, knowing what you know now, if you were commenting on their blog at the time, what would you have said?

As for what I wrote above, does anyone doubt that the CCP is a dictatorship? All dictatorships contain factions, but does this mean that we should not castigate them? And when an illiberal and dictatorial act is committed, isn’t anger a legitimate response?

June 2, 2009 @ 11:04 pm | Comment


When Twitter is used for non-political reasons against China, I’m sure that the GFW would probably not block it. When people start sending messages about gathering a bunch of people to do a mass protest in TAM in about an hour, gives an ample reasons for the Chinese government to block the website.

It happens to Western Companies who tries do business in China. Ebay does not respect Chinese laws and a company like Alibaba took over the Chinese market whereas google does respect Chinese laws thus the reason why they are still doing business in China. I would doubt that Twitter would respect the laws in China and I would not be surprised that some enterprising Chinese person will make a twitter like website soon because they would comply with Chinese laws.

June 2, 2009 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

If they wrote a story about Abu Ghraib that was false, then they’d certainly be to blame. Anyone who knowingly falsifies data is to blame for that. But let’s keep on the issue of the post, okay?

June 2, 2009 @ 11:51 pm | Comment

@Pugster – This is an odd definition of ‘law’, and not one which would score many points in an exam, I’m afraid. A law is a guide to conduct, but it is not illegal conduct or the breach of any regulation that has caused Twitter to be blocked, but mere conduct which the government disapproves of. If an illegal act has been committed, where are the charges? Where is the chance of appeal? Where was the warning? What conduct was it that was illegal? Who made the decision? What was their reasoning?

June 2, 2009 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

What Pugster has stated is a clear example of rule by law.

Which is quite different of rule of law.

Probably a side effect of historic legalism in CH.

June 3, 2009 @ 12:28 am | Comment


I’m sure the reason why Twitter is blocked is the same reason why you can’t bring liquids or sharp objects into a plane. I’m sure that 99.99+% of the people who board a plane has no malicious intent. Because they have a very slim chance that that someone will use liquids or knives to do some harm, everybody else is punished.

June 3, 2009 @ 12:30 am | Comment

@Pugster – Your sure – why? There has been no announcement by the government, no explanation, no new legislation, no court or tribunal ruling, no published decision, no press conference, in fact no evidence of anything except the block.

June 3, 2009 @ 12:52 am | Comment

pug_ster, I’d be very interested to hear of any evidence of attempts to organize any sort of illegal activity pertaining to Thursday’s anniversary via Twitter. Any evidence at all. The closest I’m aware of is discussion of wearing white as a form of silent commemoration — an act which is clearly not breaking any laws (despite possibly violating unspoken sartorial codes, depending on your taste in clothing).

June 3, 2009 @ 12:54 am | Comment

This may be a solution. It’s a flash-based screen that picks up tweets & flickr images using ‘tiananmen’ and ‘june 4’ as keywords. Will allow people in China to see that the rest of the world is livid and we’re tweeting non-stop.

Btw, Tiananmen and “China blocks twitter” are trending topics right now (and for the last many hours)

June 3, 2009 @ 1:30 am | Comment

Brendan, as long as you don’t wear white after Labor Day, you are safe from any fashion crime.

June 3, 2009 @ 3:13 am | Comment

Chinese use QQ, very few uses Twitter.

OK, now I see the problem. You Laowai must be doing a lot anti-China communication on Twitter that got it blocked. Well, if you Laowai are so eager to do anti-China, what do you expect from CCP – freedom and human rights?

This is the delicate time of year in China that calls for some censorship or even wholesale blockage. That is the way China governs and lives. It is not pretty, but it works and that is all matters in China – whatever works. So, all you laowai, just get use to it, stop whining. China lives for China, not for you laowai.

And please, stop patronizing China with Freedom and Democracy snake oils, China has seen them before and often, in fact in 1989 China had to resort to use military force to crush them.

June 3, 2009 @ 3:19 am | Comment

Oh tom, you are a sterling example of what a diet of censorship and propaganda will nourish. We have people like you in the States too – sometimes you don’t have to have literal censorship to avoid unpleasant or difficult truths.

June 3, 2009 @ 3:23 am | Comment

Having lived in Beijing for over twenty years and witnessed what happened 20 years ago, I found the blocking of youtube, twitter, flickr, blogspot,bing(you name it)extremely disappointing and inscrutable.

As a Beijinger,I felt shameful for this kind of conduct taking place in a city that I am so deeply beloved and for few other Beijingners seems to give a damn about it. Actually I seriously doubt if they know or even care to know the blocking as long as their email service is still functioning. As a Chinese college student,I feel extremely said that the Chinese college students have collectively become way less vociferous and vehement about expressing political opinions, if we really have any. We have become unprecedentedly apolitical and indifferent about the future of this country. The opportunities and exposures to the world outside China, the increasing payroll,the prospect of becoming a cyber-tycoon– all those perks unavailable to our predecessors thanks to China’s boost in economy–only made us more cognizant of the things we might have lost should we choose to go down the same road as they did.

Meanwhile, I am not saying that legal issue is not a concern. Since Chinese law has implicitly stated the the nation is entitled to fight against any subversive activities using all the available means.It is not at all hard to understand why the Chinese government has finally come to view any speech, being it negative or positive, pertaining to any sensitive political issues happened within the its territory simply as subversive and dangerous to their regime.That partially explains why there are numbers of Chinese websites blatantly aping Facebook,Twitter and etc, yet still, have a market!

The reason behind the government’s act is, well, understandable. But does that justify the act itself? Does it mean the government has no better options other than blocking the info channels? I very much doubt that. Blocking, limiting free speech in the print media, on the internet and now, in the blogosphere will be proved as one of the clumsiest ways to get what the government strive to achieve, a harmonious society with stable economy. Evidently, it’s a lose-lose situation for the Chinese gov. If they block the websites where political opinions are exchanged, they make a spectacle of themselves; if they don’t, they fear the insurgent force would get a great chance to promulgate their ideas and win the sympathy of the international society. Their only bet is that this blocking, together with many similar previous conducts, would go unnoticed and the Chinese citizens, most of which cannot figure out what hotmail is, would naively believe in their propaganda till the day they find more advanced, subtler media controlling methods to sustain their regime.

I am writing this partially as a response to Richard, whose opinions are quite impartial and perceptive, except for the bit that Chinese people are going to laugh at foreigners’ garments-rending and benting out of shape. The Chinese government is made of tectonic plates rubbing against each other, so are the Chinese people.

P.S. Keep my fingers crossed that gmail wouldn’t be the next. Gmail is quite a lifeline to many friends of mine, so I suspect there’s gonna be a “coup” it cannot be accessed.

June 3, 2009 @ 7:20 am | Comment

Actully, this is not even the first time gets harmonized

check here

June 3, 2009 @ 8:17 am | Comment

and I just figured my comment cannot show on this post

June 3, 2009 @ 8:20 am | Comment

June 4 has officially become China’s Fool’s Day.

Around this date, the people in China are kept from seeing, hearing and knowing 6.4 and TianAnMen Square. Instead, they are made to believe that democracy and freedom are bad stuff for their livelihood and country and it is not that they can’t handle it or don’t deserve it

June 3, 2009 @ 9:37 am | Comment

Here in Hangzhou I haven’t had any problem with Hotmail lately. You difficulty with Hotmail is more likely to be a Microsoft screwup than the work of the Great Firewall. Avoid this company’s products at all cost.

To Bing or not to Bing. Or is it too early to use Bing as a verb.

June 3, 2009 @ 10:57 am | Comment

It’s not often that Hotmail goes down, and if there’s a significant outage the company puts out a press release by the way.

The fact that you can access Hotmail is a GFW screw-up. It’s really not that technologically advanced actually – but more than enough to keep 99% of the population (the dimmer 99%) within bounds.

June 3, 2009 @ 11:14 am | Comment

39886370, excellent comment. My remark about Chinese laughing at Westerners rending their garments was specifically directed at FOARP for his kneejerk reaction and its “fuck-the-CCP-bastards” tone. Sometimes there’s a time for that, but I think when foreigners go nuts over Chinese censorship, it often appears odd to Chinese people who on the whole are more than delighted with all the new doors the Internet has opened for them. They tend to see the glass as half full, since China never had so much available information before. They laugh about the censorship and say yeah, you get used to it. I feel much more passionately about it than they do, or at least than most, and I post about it ad nauseum, if you go through this site. But I’ve learned that to come out with both fists swinging at “The CCP” when some sites get shut is not very useful, especially on my site where I try to bring Chinese and Western readers together. I just don’t see that kind of language furthering the conversation, especially when it bundles anyone in Chinese media as somehow responsible, even if they are doing all they can to make things better and fight against censorship 24 hours a day.This is not Nazi Germany. There really are improvements. There really are crimes like wiping out Ai Wewei’s blog and so many others. It’s still in some ways a police state, but there is undeniably a lot more choices people now have for expression. Soagain, keep this in perspective, and also see it as something that all Chinese dynasties have sought to do, to control the flow of information and keep the little people on the ground in a like mind. The blocking of twitter is just one more example of Chi8nese rulers doing what they’ve done since time immemorial – creating “harmony.” So yes, complain, protest, express yourself. But cut the outrage and shock. This is 100 percent business as usual, it was expected and we’ll all deal with i, whether by putting up blog posts like this to make the complaint visible, by using a proxy, or even (heaven forbid) staying off Twitter for a few weeks.

June 3, 2009 @ 11:24 am | Comment

Hotmail is now working in Beijing.

June 3, 2009 @ 11:33 am | Comment

Definitely a Microsoft screwup in Beijing area. Microsoft used to be evil. No it is just incompetent. It is so incompetent that it cannot be evil again.

June 3, 2009 @ 11:43 am | Comment

….Ceterum censeo GCF(tm) esse delendam

June 3, 2009 @ 2:34 pm | Comment


To bing or not to bing, that is the question.

June 3, 2009 @ 2:35 pm | Comment

I have this feeling that Bing will never become a verb.

June 3, 2009 @ 3:27 pm | Comment

I think it is too late to gain on Google just putting a new and good enough search engine in place.

Google is now more than just search.

Docs, Reader, Youtube, Picassa, etc.

Have you seen Wave?

June 3, 2009 @ 4:26 pm | Comment

Maybe it’s a step to boost the economy. I know that I would get a lot more work done with some of these sites blocked. I am of course being sarcastic.

June 5, 2009 @ 5:14 am | Comment

[…] Addendum: As it goes seems like Windows Live Spaces is also now blocked in China, as is Flickr, Bing and Hotmail as well. The list will probably get longer before it gets shorter. Here is an article from Peking Duck on the Twitter block […]

July 1, 2009 @ 3:06 pm | Pingback

[…] Hotmail as well. The list will probably get longer before it gets shorter. Here is an article from Peking Duck on the Twitter blockUPDATE: Since this post China Smack has come back on online and the problem appears, as far as I can […]

July 7, 2009 @ 2:47 pm | Pingback

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