Another Site to be Blocked in China

This morning I was in a bad mood. I had just received word that China had announced that it would be blocking voip services like Skype. I’m not sure if you are familiar with Skype, but for expats like me it serves as the lifeline. If I want to call my parents, or see my niece and nephew, or talk to pretty much anyone, I use Skype.

As you may know from every news source you’ve ever read, I live in a country where freedom of speech and privacy are not protected in any way. So when I told my friend Tim this morning that the govt. was trying to spy on my information, he just said “well duh.”

Then it struck me, how is it that after four years in China I’m still surprised when things like this happen?

The reality is that in my daily life the government doesn’t really show up, at all. If I didn’t read the People’s Daily, I wouldn’t even really know that the Central Govt. existed. I only deal with them once or twice a year when I renew my visa, and change my residence permit.

As you’ve been able to tell from my blog there is actually quite a bit more freedom than we might expect here, since I’m able to post all of this from the other side of the great firewall. To my wife’s chagrin I rarely back away from talking openly with friends, students, and co-workers about many of the problems facing China. My good Chinese friends, Seven and Henry, have had some excellent discussions about almost all of the taboo topics without secret police kicking in the door.

So when they actually do something that has an impact on my daily activities, it reminds me of all the ways in which the country that I want nothing but the best for, falls so short of what it could be. Soon we’ll be adding yet another site to the list of blocked web pages that already includes youtube, facebook, twitter, IMDB (really not sure why on this one) and even the one you are currently reading. Those have all been blocked since the start of 2008. So my big wish for 2011 is that a year from now I’ll be living in a China with even just a touch more freedom.

Update: China appears to have changed it’s mind on the Skype issue. I couldn’t be happier

About T

I have been working in China for nearly five years now. I have traveled to more than 30 cities and towns, and have lived in 3 provinces. I am interested in issues concerning development in China and the rest of the world. I hope to provide a balanced look at some of the issues facing China as it continues its rise to power.
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6 Responses to Another Site to be Blocked in China

  1. Sharon Merchant says:

    Tom, what are the risks you face transmitting this blog? I enjoy reading your daily account but, not to the point of any risk to you! Happy New Year to you and your wife. I pray for a happy and prosperous New Year for both of you. Sharon

    • Tom says:

      As far as I can tell, there are several other people posting to this same website, and saying much more critical things, so I think the risk is pretty minimal. However there are several topics that I have avoided talking about here.

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  3. Marcus says:

    When living in China, it’s good value to invest in a VPN such as what the company called Perfect Privacy offers. Basically let’s you completely skip the Great Firewall – which is a royal pain in the ass. WordPress is never blocked – or not often anyway. Blogger/Blogspot on the other hand, always, which was very very very annoying.

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  5. Westlake says:

    Tom, IMDB was blocked during showing time of the movie “Beginning of the Great Revival “, also called “Jian Dang Wei Ye” , literally means “The great founding of the party”. I gave it a score of 1.0 on IMDB. The final rating is 2.1 and ranked the top shitty movie during the last 2 years. So ironic!

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