Monthly Archives: July 2008

[Dis]cover China's firewall

D Day-7: all the rage is about reporters finding out that they don’t have the same access to websites as usual. Type in falun gong or tibet and you get a blank page or an error (something covered during Lift06…).

What strikes me as suprising is the (fainted?) naïvity on both sides. Did foreign reporters really believe that Beijing would “open” China’s Internet during the Games (and potentially leave it open afterwards)? Did the Chinese government really believe that the press would search the Internet in China solely for articles on athletes or sports?

No more surprising is the IOC admitting on July 30 that its officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related! The Chinese are limiting their promise to providing the media with convenient and sufficient access to the Internet.

Time for the foreign media to [dis]cover how to circumvent China’s firewall…

P.S.: For those who didn’t notice, Eutelsat Communications stopped some time ago broadcasting New Tang Dynasty Television’s (NTDTV) to China – officially due to a power generator subsystem problem, less officially because the network was getting repeated complaints and reminder from the Chinese government. Strange practices since the European Union’s charter that created Eutelsat required the practice of non-discrimination, equal access, and respect for media pluralism. Censorship doesn’t always from where you expect it!

353.8 billion spam text messages

Spam In 2007 the 530+ million Chinese mobile subscribers received 350+ billion spam text messages: that’s an average of 666 spam text message per year – close to 2 per day.

Representatives from 34 operators and service provider companies, including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, China Netcom, Sina, Tencent and, joined forces with the Internet Society of China (ISC) to tackle the issue.

The result? A self-disciplinary convention on anti-spam, strongly supported by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology who has also been looking in improving the governance over mobile spam. Users can now download a software with functions including message filtering and screening

Customer satisfaction?

The Beijing Airport is trying to get feedback from the passengers. But this very commendable initiative is just slightly biased…. since you can vote before being granted entry and receiving your passport back from the Customs’ officer.

As you can see, in addition to voting you can even leave a “voice” comment. Can you imagine complaining to the machine right in front of the officer?
Beijing Airport

Un-censored China!

It was not so long ago that the portrayal of the “other” China was the monopoloy of the odd-foreign journalist braving local authorities and self-censorship to cover sensitive topics (like Tibet, AIDS villages, public demonstrations, etc.).

YouTube (and the other video sharing websites) coupled with blogs are fundamentally altering this. Chinese netizens are posting increasingly daring comments on blogs (e.g. the Weng’An riot). They are also posting more and more videos (easily made with cellphones) on the Internet (e.g. the beating up of villagers by the village head together with a group of thugs as they refuse to leave their homes which will be demolished for a construction project – please note that the images are crude).

This is of course giving plenty of additional work to the Chinese cyber-police… at least for sites hosted within China.

Morse is back

Some of you may remember that Morse was officially abandonned in 1997, when the French navy ceased using the code with a final message “Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence.”

Well, it looks like Morse has not gone completely forgotten by everyone, and especially not netizens in China who are using it, among other, to escape the vigilance of the cyber-police!

Here is the link for those interested in translating from Chinese to morse or vice-versa.