In the hope that this will be the last time I would be writing about China’s Golden Shield Project or more commonly known as The Great Firewall of China (as a coined reference to the ancient Great Wall), I will try to put everything here from the FAQ’s to the multitude of ways to get pass through it. Everything and everything in one writing until I loose breath and consciousness or until my fingers bleed. But of course, this is just me overly exaggerating.
There had been a lot of discussions about the history of the Golden Shield Project pointing way back to the first formation of the Communist and Democratic China parties, everything else still boil down to one common reason: To prevent taboo and illicit contents from getting to the Mainlanders’ viewing. Here’s a shortlist of contents that are most likely candidate for blockage from the Almighty Firewall as listed by the ever reliable WIkipedia:
- BBC News (Chinese edition);
- Web sites belonging to outlawed or suppressed groups, such as Falun Gong and pro-democracy activists;
- News sources that often cover some taboo topics such as police brutality, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, freedom of speech, democracy, and Marxist sites. These sites include Voice of America and the Chinese edition of BBC News;
- Sites related to the Taiwanese government, media, or other organizations, including sites dedicated to religious content. The Taiwanese-language version of parody wiki Uncyclopedia (as zh.uncyclopedia.info) also appears to be blocked, as of September 2007;
- Web sites that contain anything the Chinese authorities regard as obscenity or pornography
Web sites relating to criminal activity;
- Sites linked with the Dalai Lama and his International Tibet Independence Movement, including his teachings;
- Most blogging sites, such as blogger.com, wordpress.com, experience frequent or permanent outages; and
- Web sites deemed as subversive.
On a personal thought, I think this is totally senseless with the recent advancement in internet technology because no matter how hard you try to censor everything people could get the “contraband” contents to their target audience – emails, files transfers, text messages, etc. Though The Great Firewall of China could be one hell of a project to piss the outlanders off making them loose interest in propagating outlandish contents, the real outlaws could still find their ways to getting the “business” done. As the most overused and overrated cliché goes, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”
How to get past the Great Firewall of China
- Proxy - Use of web proxies beats the every other means of anonymous web browsing in popularity. Though you could get successfully get past the Great Firewall, web proxies tends to slow down the connection speed greatly. Massive pop-ups and pop-unders make the experience worse. Go to proxy.org to generate random proxy.
- Firefox Gladder Add-on - If you’re using Firefox (which you should have installed and have been using by now, hello?), install this add-on would eliminate the effort of finding random proxies and cutting and pasting them on your browser. Originally created by GNEHEIX, Gladder enables one click proxy web browsing.
- Proxy.pac - Massive incursion of Angry Expats could have brought this hack into existence. Big thanks to Lost Laowai, Ya, I Yee and The Humanaut for the instructions.
1. Open up a text editor (notepad, or whatever you’ve got lying around your system)
2. In the text editor, copy and paste the following:
return “PROXY 18.104.22.168:80″;
return “PROXY 22.214.171.124:80″;
return “PROXY 126.96.36.199:80″;
return “PROXY 188.8.131.52:80″;
return “PROXY 184.108.40.206:80″;
3. Save the text file as proxy.pac in your computer’s ROOT directory (on a PC that’s usually your C:\ drive). NOTE: Be careful that the text editor doesn’t save the file as proxy.pac.txt - it should be called proxy.pac.
Instructions for different browsers vary. We can’t include instructions for all, but here’s how to do it for Firefox and Internet Explorer - if you use an alternative to these, you should be able to adapt this method to your browser without too much trouble.
1. Click Tools » Options » Advanced » Network » Settings
2. Select the last option - “Automatic proxy configuration URL:” - and enter file:///C:/proxy.pac in the field just below it.
3. Save the settings and close Firefox. Upon relaunching Firefox you should now be able to access http://*.wordpress.com and http://*.blogspot.com blogs.
1. Click Tools » Internet Options » Connections » LAN Settings
2. Check the “Use automatic configuration script” box and enter file://c:/proxy.pac in the Address field. (note: the address to the file is slightly different than the Firefox one - there is one less forward slash.)
3. Save your settings, restart Internet Explorer and you should be able to access http://*.wordpress.com and http://*.blogspot.com blogs.
This hack also works on computers running the Mac OS. Simply follow the above PC instructions, changing the path to the proxy.pac file. For instance, if you have the pac file saved to your desktop the path would be file:///Users/yourname/Desktop/proxy.pac, changing “yourname” to whatever your username is.
- Use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) - VPN clients virtually teleports you elsewhere outside China making you technically out of the Great Firewall’s jurisdiction thus getting out the Golden Shield Project’s control. However, since your virtually thousands of miles away from your LAN connection, browsing could also be a hell lot slower. I once used an account from GoTrusted.com but after the trial period (when service had to be charged), everything began to be a lot more slower (worse, the connection is unavailable) so I had the service discontinued.
- Acquiring a dedicated IP - Since The Great Firewall of China blocks websites through IP filtering, acquiring a dedicated IP could be a great way to get out of the blockage. Cheap shared hosting usually hosts multiple domains (from different accounts and users) in a single IP, blockage of a single delinquent domain means blockage of everything within the IP. If your blog (or website) became blocked by The Great Firewall of China, change in IP is the best way (as opposed to acquiring a new host) to get past the pandemonium though it usually comes with an additional charge.
Other interesting articles from similarly angry expats in China
In the hope that I won’t have to cover anything about The Great Firewall of China in the future, here’s a shortlist of rants and rambling from other angry expatriates in China and elsewhere:
- The Great Firewall: China’s Misguided - and Futile - Attempt to Control What Happens Online
- Sinobyte » YouTube unblocked in China, but could Google have cooperated?
- The Atlantic » The Connection Has Been Reset
- Beijing Notebook » Blogspot blocked in China
- Danwei » Blogspot blocked again
- Rice Again » Hurdling The Great (Fire) Wall of China
- Andrew Lih » Great Firewall Filtering Revealed
- The China Expat » 5 Things I Hate About China
- China Expat » Smart Firewall of China