Flickr, YouTube, and Google Video Problems in China

For the past two days or so, none of the little button images on any Flickr pages will load. This is what I see above each image on the individual photo page:

broken Flickr image links

The actual photos load fine. Fortunately most of the site navigation is text, but the little buttons above each image are image files, and none of them display. What’s worse is that there are no alt tags or tooltips for them, so I have to guess if I am to use any of them.

While I’m whining about sites not loading properly in China, I feel the need to mention that YouTube hasn’t loaded reliably for something like a month. The earthquake which affected all of China did a number on YouTube as well, but it seems like YouTube has been a lot less reliable ever since Google bought it. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising, since you can’t even play Google videos in China (Google’s decision), but it sure is annoying.

Google Video in China

“Don’t be evil” is a nice goal, but I’ll settle for “give China its free video” for the time being.

2006-01-31 Update: YouTube is finally working again! Flickr also seems back to normal.


John Pasden

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


  1. […] Flickr, YouTube, and Google Video Problems in China […]

  2. If we refer to one of the definitions of political (Relating to or involving acts regarded as damaging to a government or state) the title and the content of this thread seems to be inadequate with the apolitical purpose of the website.
    …but don’t worry I’ve just said it as a joke. ;D

    I really like your website.

  3. FYI: the links for friends’ blogs in your Chinese blog are not assessible.I mean, they don’t load at all. it’s been a while since last Friday. don’t know why.

  4. Was the 2MB/sec high-speed everything it was advertised as?

  5. Flickr viewed through Firefox (OSX) at the moment is terrible. Looks like a grade-school kid’s exercise in HTML coding. In fact, it looks as though the CSS isn’t loading at all.

    It sure is 2Mbps in China, but slows down once you want to access international sites. I get similar China-internal rates from Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean and HK websites though. Anything else is really reduced in speed at the best of times, now browsing is ok, but there’s little bandwidth for moving big files.


  6. Well up here in Dalian the net is only just beginning to get back to normal.

    Methinks that the reason youtube is starting to suck in China is seeing as youtube will now be devising a scheme offering a part of the profits to successfull video makers, the Chinese government does not want it’s student’s to all try to aim to become the new Backdorm boys over night.

    KTV will grind to a halt, the very China we know will cease to exist. The Internet is just not equiped to hold a new super group from China.

    If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about then visit this link, all will become clear..

  7. Wilson, Im on a 10mb connection and the internet is still like watching paint dry.

  8. YouTube has always sucked over here in Xinjiang. Then, I switched to Wang Tong and everything was hunky dory for about 3 weeks. Then the earthquake fucked everything up again. Sigh.

  9. flickr is working again today.
    Remember, people, using allowu dot com can show you sites that are blocked – always… Or any other anonymiser, actually. But with allowu you can even log in, as it accepts cookies. Can’t live without it! Technorati here I come…

  10. @Jakob: Cool, I’m impressed.

    Flickr seems to be OK today, but Youtube is still sloooow (and blocked (careful, that will cut you off from Youtube for a couple minutes)).

  11. Never mind, Youtube is actually pretty speedy. Here’s a video of the new Shanghai Best Buy:

  12. Micah,

    Yes! YouTube works again! It has been so long… And Flickr works fine again too.

    Thanks for pointing it out, Micah.

    Can I get any confirmations from other parts of China?

  13. In Beijing, I got YouTube back suddenly on Sunday afternoon and it’s been quite nice ever since (so this post was a nice opportunity to sniff at Shanghai). Other missing sites (the Haohao Report, for example) came back at the same time. Youtube searches have been problematic for a long time, so it’s not surprising that they still cause errors.

  14. Youtube seems to be working okay now. Wonder if Skype is back in action, might actually call my family seeing as I never called them all christmas.

  15. I discovered this thread on Flickr forums earlier today that sheds some light on what happened.


  16. Looks like things are back to normal in my part of China. I phoned China Lian Xi, my adsl provider yesterday and asked if everything was fixed. They said yah. I didn’t really believe them, but it’s been two good days now.

    Like John said, it’s been sooo long.

    Looks like some virus came with the package too, seems to take over my internet after about 10 minutes of use. GreAATE’rrrr. My advertised 2MB is no such thing, but I can usually get to all the sights and slowly download small to medium sized video. No way I can get a sustainable video news feed from say CNN, etc.

  17. Remember when google first came to China? It was constantly ‘blocked on demand’ to give copycat baidu an edge in the market. Same thing happened to ebay when Taobao made an exact Chinese replica of their site. There is now an exact copy of youtube in Chinese, and guess what, youtube now sucks in China. What about feedburner? As soon as the Chinese copy of feedburner started up feedburner feeds have been completely or partially inaccessible.

    The GFW is not only about censoring political content anymore, its about making money. Welcome to capitalism with Chinese characteristics.

Leave a Reply