Aside from a few hours walking around West Lake and shooting some pictures (too bad it was overcast, hazy, and humid all day) I've been catching up on my digital life: reading work and personal email, various RSS feeds, and so on.

West Lake I ended up following a link earlier that led me to a Wikipedia article and watched it timeout. I tried it again and it failed. Then I remembered this comment from Daniel on my original post about coming to Hangzhou.

Apparently Wikipedia really is blocked in China. I tried to outsmart the Great Firewall by going back to the search results page where I found the link and trying to view the cached copy.

Guess what. The servers that host Google's cached pages also seem to be blocked.

This led me to keep track of what other sites ended up unreachable and presumably blocked. The list so far is quite strange.

Interestingly, Ian's blog is hosted by Yahoo! Web Hosting, while the other two are hosted blogs. I am able to get to TypePad blogs, it seems. But I'm unable to get to the Yahoo! Search blog, also on Yahoo! Web Hosting.

Thankfully I could tunnel my HTTP traffic over an SSH connection back to server in the USA and visit these sites anyway if it was a big deal.

Wouldn't it be educational if instead of simply being blocked, one was directed to a page the explained what the fuss was about?

In any case, I'll keep track of other "problem sites" I come across.

Posted by jzawodn at May 18, 2007 03:12 AM

Reader Comments
# sylvia said:

How intriguing. I can't help but wonder what kind of status a website has to have to get blocked. The current events blogs are not that high profile, are they just searching on key words? I wonder, if I made a new website quickly, what subjects might trigger it to be added to the list (and how quickly. Oooh, we could have a blog-banning race!)

Are the major news sites bloked? or Or how about the lower profile

on May 18, 2007 03:50 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I cat get to the BBC and just fine.

Odd indeed.

on May 18, 2007 03:59 AM
# Rasmus said:

Those sites aren't blocked from the Hong Kong airport wifi where I am stuck right now waiting for my delayed connection.

on May 18, 2007 04:18 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Strange, isn't it?

Perhaps it's done on a per-ISP basis of some sort?

on May 18, 2007 04:22 AM
# Jeffrey Friedl said:

Jeremy, you don't geoencode your photos?! You lose 3 geek status points.

on May 18, 2007 05:09 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Damnit, the camera should do that without my help!

I want my flying car and my GPS enabled camera already. This is 2007. WTF?!

on May 18, 2007 05:14 AM
# Daniel said:


Hong Kong is not behind the Great Firewall.

on May 18, 2007 06:10 AM
# Logan 5 said:

The reason they don't have a page explaining why a site is blocked is because they don't want their people to know that there actually is a block. The government wants people to think that the world truly is "clean".

on May 18, 2007 08:49 AM
# said:

I'm not running the firewall and all this is second-hand information (no definitive tests by me), but... The firewall is capable of picking up and blocking "offensive" pages and sites via content filtering. It also blocks certain IP addresses if the content piped from those IP addresses is historically "problematic."

In the Yahoo! Hosting case, I have heard from multiple independent sources that the blockage is because the IP's used by Yahoo! Hosting are mostly from Yahoo!'s GeoCities acquisition. And GeoCities was a free-for-all of "offensive content." So those IP's, regardless of current content, are blocked. Unfortunately, China has not re-considered and Yahoo!'s hosting customers have suffered.

on May 18, 2007 09:20 AM
# Ian Kennedy said:

Must be that Jellyfish story, alarming, offensive, and perhaps political?

on May 18, 2007 11:30 AM
# Andy said:

I want GPS-enabled phone too! haha, iPhone, Neo1973, new Blackberry, hopefully we'll have some options by the end of 2007, flying car?---not so much.

I was in China last year too and was shocked that Wikipedia was blocked, what a great resource. What surprised me most though (and I think I left this comment on your blog months ago) was that newstand magazines like The Economist had whole articles ripped out (especially the article on China's culture and historical past).

Good point about tunneling traffic. Are you using Hamachi or something?

on May 18, 2007 11:30 AM
# Jeremy Johnstone said:

That's one positive thing about being in the U.A.E. over China. Yes they still block arbitrary pages (like Flickr), but at least you get this page telling you why (even if I don't agree with what it says).

on May 18, 2007 02:33 PM
# pooya said:

One reason for not showing a forbidden page instead of just connection timeout could be that they can't afford to have a stateful firewall and http proxy for the whole China. So they can't redirect you to a forbidden page. The firewall probably just watch the packets and drop the "bad" ones and sent an RST packet back to you.

on May 18, 2007 02:37 PM
# Peter said:

Some random comments:
Religious sites like is blocked
(used to be) any website address containing f* word will be blocked like e.g.
Any sites that contain information that can be used against Chinese Government will be blocked, like The Tiananmen massacre

Cisco is rumored to have helped to build the router so that when sensitive information is detected in the packet, it will be replaced with a RST packet.

Of course, those explicit website is blocked for obvious reasons. And GCD does not need any reason to block these sites.

on May 18, 2007 03:10 PM
# Kevin Burton said:

Careful........ I think I remember seeing that it was illegal to try to bypass the great firewall.....

Wouldn't want you thrown in prison.

The odd thing is that these firewall blocks are a GREAT way for Chinese entrepreneurs to bootstrap their companies.

Watch for a cool US startups, wait for it to be blocked, then work with the chinese government to censor while you clone their functionality.


on May 18, 2007 08:15 PM
# Bobbie Johnson said:

"Wouldn't it be educational if instead of simply being blocked, one was directed to a page the explained what the fuss was about?"

That sounds like a fundamental misunderstanding of what the firewall's there for: the implication of an "educational" explanation is that it's about protecting users from unwanted content. Of course it's not; it's about controlling their behaviour and manipulating the choices they can make as covertly as possible.

on May 18, 2007 08:43 PM
# Joe Hunkins said:

Looking forward to the pix. The clash of China vs Western historic / political / economic sensibilities is always very intriguing.

on May 18, 2007 10:50 PM
# Simon said:

What a pity we couldn't access Wikipedia in China. :(

And I would like to suggest you to go the Bao-Chu Pagoda.
At that place, you can see the whole scenery of West Lake.

on May 19, 2007 05:01 AM
# Simon said:

How can I downloaded the sliders in the International Developer Conference or I cant?

on May 19, 2007 05:52 AM
# Micah Sittig said:

Research shows the the Great Firewall is a combination of ISP-level and national-level blocks.

If you could get to the BBC, you were probably trying . Try .

@Peter: It's not that black and white. The GFW is strong in some ways (IP-level blocks and temporary net access cuts), dumb in others (vulnerable to simple proxies for many URLs), and somewhat erratic in what it blocks (Blogspot and other blogging hosts on and off).

on May 19, 2007 06:32 AM
# leon said:

Hi i'm a chinese.
It seems that you're all very concern about the blocked part

on May 19, 2007 09:07 PM
# leon said:

hi jeremy
I'm leon
Did you send me a mail?
Just now when I check my mail box.The mail you write to me was in the "rubbish mail" i deleted it accidently.
would you send me another?

on May 20, 2007 09:00 AM
# J Aaron Farr said:

You may be back by now, but the next time you (or any of your readers) end up in China and can't get to Wikipedia, another option is You can usually find wikipedia articles copied there and at least earlier this year wasn't blocked from the mainland.

I'm living down in Hong Kong now, so Jeremy, if you're ever in the neighborhood down here, feel free to stop by!

on May 20, 2007 10:24 PM
# Peter said:

I agree with you that the blocking is not that black and white. And you can bypass the wall using proxy software like Tor (At least when I was in China, simple proxies didn't work for me).

However, blocking blogspot, google cache and so on is not erratic at all. They are doing it because many posts hosted on the website are considered anti-government or "immoral".

Any site that has to do with "damaging government reputation in a public manner" will be blocked - poor Scoble

on May 22, 2007 02:17 AM
# Chris said:

Wikipedia, no problem - use

I am not sure what the law is re: trying to go around the firewall, but I know many foreign companies with operations in China use their own internet proxies located outside of the country. Being at one of these companies, I don't really run into blocking problems... Yeah, at home I would, but I usually don't spend too much time on the computer at home these days...

on May 22, 2007 06:56 PM
# Wesley Tanaka said:

There's an "advantage" to having blocked sites look like they're having some generic networking error -- naive users don't even realize that the internet is being censored

on May 23, 2007 05:20 PM
# crane said:

As to BBC, the front page and everything seems quite OK.
But when you try to open its Chinese channel, it's timeout.
And they don't really censor English very much.

on May 24, 2007 09:10 PM
# Ryan said:

As of 4 pm Saturday May 26th, (which displays almost all English Wikipedia content) isn't working in China. It seems to be blocked, since after typing in the URL, you're not redirected; the browswer simply displays a "page cannot be found" message--the same result as typing in

Right now there doesn't seem to be any way to access wikipedia content in China. Apparently has been added to China's official list of websites non grata?

on May 26, 2007 09:31 PM
# Apollo said:

I'm a Chinese-American college student also visiting Hangzhou right now (a nice coincidence, eh?), and presently I'm rather angry at the Firewall -- which then consequently calls to mind all the problems of the Chinese government.

I'm a frequenter of Wikipedia, but now I'll have no access to it for a month. is indeed also blocked. Chinese BBC is blocked. Annoyed, I googled "great firewall" and found many of the search results blocked (but it did lead me to your blog, which happily is accessible). Many Tiananmen articles are blocked.

This is terrible! I always hear about the firewall and all, but it's terribly annoying to actually be victim to it. Growing up in the U.S., I'm used to the idea of free information, of media being the whistleblower and the informer of citizens and all, but to think that information is not free to so many Chinese, it's, GAH! -- infuriating.

on May 28, 2007 05:08 AM
# stedawa said:

Yes, seems to have been blocked for about a week.

Oddly, I can access it now.

It's a kind of flimflam firewall, I guess.

Not sure what the threatening or offensive content is.

The tainted food products article at is no longer there, but the birth control riots that involved with electric cattle prods (at the neighborhood grocery store) at
seems to be still there intact.

It will be a shame if is blocked, as it has reams of information that can give background to news stories or bloggits (blog posts), and it has also has idioms and common expressions clearly explained. So it is great for EFL students.

on May 28, 2007 10:58 PM
# Kelvin Nicholson said:

Rasmus: I'm almost certain HK is exempt from the Great Firewall. I've heard there are three major gateways, one in Beijing, another in Guangzhou and the last in Shanghai. I've also heard there are eight (as I find it rather hard to believe there isn't a gateway in Shenzhen).

Pooya: I found an essay once about the Firewall. You seem to be quite accurate: the firewall apparently changes the IP packet so it is sent as a RST, then when it arrives at the next destination it is dropped.

Indeed, I'll admit from personal experience, that the Firewall is frustrating. How does that old poem go: in the skies there is heaven, on Earth there is Hangzhou/Suzhou...

on May 29, 2007 11:08 PM
# Andreas said:

if you are not in china, you can see which sites are blocked at

as you said, technically it's not a big problem to circumvent such censorship,...

regarding china, these are still interesting

on May 30, 2007 07:24 AM
# Kelvin Nicholson said:

Andreas: that is a pretty nifty site. Turns out my personal site/blog ( is blocked; I guess I blog and mention TW a tad too much. I'll verify next month when I'm in China.

Anyways, thanks for pointing this site out!

on June 2, 2007 10:27 PM
# Bruce said:

Coz I can't open my blog on, then I track down the reason. By accident, I saw your blog, and felt petty lucky. I am a chinese, so I don't really want to know what is going on behind the surface. What could I do? I choose not to read news on chinese media. English is becoming a majority of my life. Hopefully everything will be in steady progress.

on June 16, 2007 10:19 AM
# Brian Dear said:

I realize that your post is a few years old, but if anyone is interested, in my blog, I have outlined in detail just how the so-called Great Firewall works. At the end of the blog, I explain methods used to bypass the firewall. So, if you or anyone else is interested, I'd recommend visiting my entry here:

on November 27, 2009 08:40 PM
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