China: YouTube blocked and then some

Is YouTube blocked in China? YouTube is blocked in China. And accompanying the news are more mentions of pathological GFW paroxysms than usual; blogspot is back, so is Flickr, sort of, and for a period of time yesterday, Live.com, Yahoo.com and blogsearch.google.cn were either inaccessible or being re-routed back to China's result-censoring search engine Baidu, screenshots and reader recounts of this here.

google-blogsearch-blocked-in-cn2.gif

Board member of Chinese YouTube competitor Tudou, Marc van der Chijs, asks:

The reason? Probably not directly the ongoing 17th National Congress in Beijing, then they would have blocked the site last week already (unless someone right now uploaded some video's that would upset the government). I suspect the real reason might be that YouTube just launched a Chinese version, which would make the site much more accessible for Chinese users. Not a very smart idea to do that in the middle of the National Congress, and I am surprised nobody at mother company Google's China offices rang an alarm bell about this before the launch. A typical example of the mistakes foreign companies make while trying to do business in China.

Those mistakes being ones foreign business interests don't take lightly.

“There’s never any way to predict whether a block is permanent,” writes a reader to Transpacifica, one of the earliest blogs to report the news; “Who knew Blogger would come online when the 17th Congress had so much else tightened…”

Being discussed now is what options netizens have in dealing with the block. Thomas Crapton, another early observer of the block, writes:

I don’t know how to get around it. Everyone always talks about proxy servers like Tor and Gladder, but I’ve never been able to make them work very well. Quite frustrating, actually!

Frustrating, and distressing, as put by MSN Live Spaces blogger Andis Kaulins:

I am distressed that I can't get Youtube this morning. It looks like the government or the phone company is blocking it. I can get to it by proxy, but I can't watch the actual videos. It would be sad if this was a permanent thing like the inability to get to blogspot or wikipedia that is so often the case here in China.

The Shanghai Show blogger Vivian Shen shares some light on her strategy:

Adding videos to Youtube from China will be a painfully slow process since we’ll have to use TOR or another proxy service and watching said videos in China will be just as painful for the aforementioned reasons.

And Transpacifica commenter Graham Webster gives some positive feedback on a different approach that he's taken:

I’m getting reasonably good results from Hotspot Shield, which was first introduced to the China blogosphere by the historian over at “花崗齋雜記 Jottings from the Granite Studio.” It’s a pain in the ass for some things, but it seems to provide the bandwidth necessary for YouTube, where others may fail.

From the Flumesday blogger:

As with every internet censorship measure in mainland China, it is a guessing game as to when, if ever, access to YouTube will resume. The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party concludes on Saturday though officials have already named President Hu Jintao China’s “paramount leader” until 2012. With an apparent block and numerous emerging Chinese video-sharing pages, it remains to be seen whether YouTube will endure as China’s paramount video site.

A detailed Chinese-language guide to proxy options can be found courtesy of MSN Live Spaces blogger Amoiist here.

8 comments

  • thanks John for this great roundup. This will help me a lot with the project I told you about :)

  • Daniel

    Surfing the internet is China is like having a cactus lodged in yout ass. IT’S PAIN. I’ve spent time and money to make a nice youtube channel and now it’s blocked. But you really think Im blocked from youtube? ROFLMAO of course not. I use proxies. Untill the day china will pay for my internet connection I GO WHEREVER I WISH. If they start to pay for it, then I’ll consider.

  • Can we confirm that Yahoo China was redirected in addition to Yahoo.com? My impression from what others have said is that it was just Yahoo.com. Since Yahoo China’s search engine is run by Alibaba and is censored as much as Baidu, redirecting it to Baidu makes no sense at all.

  • That was my carelessness in quoting what was being written. Thank you for catching that and pointing it out; I’ve changed it to Yahoo.com.

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