Google Acting Up

05 Feb 2006

The internet has been really slow for me in Shanghai lately. These periods of sluggishness come and go, but it seems that they often coincide with new sites being blocked.

Those who follow current events in China know that Google has recently set up Google.cn, which will comply with the PRC’s filtering desires. I agree with Jeremy that this, in itself, does not amount to some betrayal of the internet on the part of Google, but Rebecca MacKinnon got to the crux of the matter when she asked:

> …what happens if the Chinese netnannies use the existence of Google.cn as an excuse to block the U.S.-hosted Google entirely? That would be very bad. And if that happens, how will Google respond? Will they shrug their shoulders and sigh? Or will they push back?

Personally, I don’t think Google will do a whole lot. Hopefuly the public outcry will be enough to have some effect.

I’m hoping it’s just a temporary glitch (these things do happen), but Google is not loading for me at all right now.

Update: Google was accessible again by the following morning.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Hi John, I visit your blog from time to time and enjoy your informative posts. You seem like just the one to clarify something for me: are you (and Rebecca MacKinnon) saying that when things are running smoothly, you can access both Google.cn and Google.com from within China?

  2. It is helpful in these situations to remember that Google runs search off the root of their ad-hosting servers as well. Given havoc that blocking those servers would play with the loading of vast sections of the Web, I’d expect access to continue.

  3. I think the main reason for the slowness of the internet right now is the millions of people sitting at home, seven days into the holiday, bored out of their brains with nothing else to do but go online. It is always slower during the major holidays.

    Google is fine here in Guangxi!

  4. It’s very frustrating not being able to access google. I hope it’s only temporary.
    At least I can still access gmail.

  5. Google works on my Shanghai connection, too.

  6. Joe Thong Says: February 6, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    google works from suzhou here too.

  7. Note that the blockage was noticed on both sides of the language barrier; it seems to have been lifted sometime this morning, though.

  8. Not only are google.cn and google.com available, but when I go to google.cn it automatically diverts to the US hosted and uncensored google.com.cn!

  9. Eleise,

    Yes, both are currently accessible. Today, google.cn is redirecting to google.com for me (which is slightly different from what Liuzhou Laowai reports above).

  10. PaulinHarbin Says: February 6, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    Google in Harbin works splendidly. Nice site John.
    Cheers, Paul

  11. Maybe this isn’t a big thing on the surface, but I think US companies bowing to the demands of a government with authoritarian tendencies is not a good idea. Just last year the Hong Kong office of Yahoo! responded to a Public Security Bureau request for a dissident’s email and identity. US companies making “deals with the devil,” throwing aside scruples in search of profits, is a problem. Google is being a hypocrite when it refuses to cooperate with a US Justice Dept investigation into kiddie porn (citing privacy protection) but it’s apparently all too willing to cooperate with the Chinese government to censor “dangerous” material.

    All that and wikipedia is banned in the mainland too! chaam…

  12. Google may be working fine again, but wordpress.com has been blocked in China since January 31. Anyone else in China want to provide confirmation of this by leaving a comment? Anyone finding it is accessible from somewhere in China?

    Fortunately, wordpress.org doesn’t seem to be affected.

  13. I think everyone is with you there, Nathan, but that’s what happens when you decide to make a company public – by definition a public company can’t pretend to stick to a motto like ‘don’t be evil’.

    Btw, people in China, I noticed the only difference between google.com.cn and google.cn (which I didn’t know existed til now) is this image (http://www.google.cn/intl/zh-CN_cn/images/cn_icp.gif). What does it mean? It that the seal of the PRC government?

  14. This image:

  15. Right at this moment I cannot get to either google.com.cn or google.cn from Australia. Is it really turned off for all outsiders now??

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