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Life Lessons With Brian: In Which I Teach China About The Internet

Alright China, we need to talk. No, not that talk. Judging by your population, you already know plenty about the birds and the bees. We need to have the internet talk.

You’ve been restricting my access to the internet since I got here on February 23rd. WordPress was blocked, for starters. Then a few weeks later, YouTube is inexplicably unavailable. It’s been that way for four months, China. How am I supposed to watch videos of ninja kitties or waterskiing squirrels if I can’t use YouTube? Then there was Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, and briefly, Google. Then the most recent batch was unblocked, only for you to block Twitter again yesterday, and Facebook today. What gives? ***Update: The recent Twitter and Facebook blocks are due to riots in the Xinjiang region; current counts indicate at least 156 killed, 800 injured, and over 1,400 arrested.***

Facebook is currently blocked.

Facebook is currently blocked...

...and so is Twitter

...and so is Twitter

I’m going to be honest, China – you seem a little insecure. That fiasco with the Green Dam filtering software? Ouch, that had to hurt. Censoring internet access isn’t unusual behavior for you, but blatantly pirating the software to do it from a US company? That was just dumb. Even if you don’t give a crap about intellectual property rights, the rest of world does. You lost face with that one for sure. Not only did all the predictable players get upset (aka the West), the hardware companies that are typically meek and complicit got pretty riled at you. For goodness’ sake, even your own people started complaining. That’s not a good sign, is it?

Sure, you want the internet to be “harmonious,” but you’ve got about as much chance of that happening as the United States does of you forgetting about the trillions of dollars we owe you. You and I both know neither of those things is going to happen.

Don’t get me wrong – I know the internet is a veritable font of all that you despise – nasty things like democracy, people expressing their opinions, and information on the Tiananmen Square Massacre or the Falun Gong. Sure, it’s corrupting your precious, happily ignorant populace. That’s life, though. For every piece of dangerous information you block, a dozen more make it through to your internet users (by the way, congratulations on now having more people online than the United States). You’re like that little Dutch boy who plugs a leak in the dyke with his finger, only there are more holes than you’ve got pudgy fingers to block them with. Instead of moving toward a safer position, you’re going to keep blocking the holes you can reach, even if you drown doing it.

My favorite proxy server was recently (i.e. yesterday) made unavailable to me. Instead of getting on here, I got this fun message:


Now, I’m no expert on internet censorship, so I’m not entirely positive where this message is coming from. Who knows, maybe it wasn’t even you – maybe the proxy server got tired of some guy in China using up all their bandwidth. That seems unlikely, though. I’m not pointing fingers, China, but looking the other way and whistling awkwardly doesn’t exactly make me trust you.

You know what, though? It doesn’t even matter. I’m already on a new server, posting to my blog like nothing happened. Want to block this one? Go ahead. Here, I’ll even give you the list I’ve been using. Block away. I’ll just find new ones.

Proxy List

Proxy List

Do all you want, China. Bring out your big guns, I don’t care. We non-harmonious internet users are everywhere. We’re like cockroaches – no matter how hard you try, no matter how fast you move, you can’t seem to squash us. We just scurry into the closest dark spot – see, that’s a metaphor for proxy servers – and hide where you can’t find us. Flick on the light in that corner, and we’ll just run to the next one. And the next, and the next, and the next. You. Can’t. Stop. Us.


July 7, 2009 - Posted by | Humor, Politics, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. interesting look at life on the other side — thanks for the post

    Comment by Davis | July 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. yeah… well there’s a lot that China – not China, but the Chinese Communist Party, wants to hide. especially the persecution of Falun Gong which has been happening for ten years now. Falun Gong is a spiritual practice with principles of Truth, Compassion and Forbearance. Innocent people who practice Falun Gong are persecuted in China, harvested for their organs, tortured to give up their beliefs… This is one thing the Chinese Communist Party does not want the public to know about. This is what is extremely terrifying about this persecution. Due to information blockage, it is hard for the world outside of china to know about the atrocities taking place behind their firewall.

    For more information on this brutal persecution, you can visit:

    For more information on the internet situation in China, you can visit:

    Google framed in China:

    U.S. Calls on China to Drop Mandatory Internet Filtering:

    Beijing Delays Mandatory Filtering Software Installation:

    It is important that people are well informed. The information blockade in CHina is a great way for the CCP to block their wrongdoings, but I’m not worried, cos the truth will come out sooner or later.

    Comment by cookiis | July 16, 2009 | Reply

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