Done with my teaching duties for the week, I'm heading up to Dalian from Hong Kong this afternoon to catch the rest of the World Economic Forum's "Summer Davos" in China's north-eastern city of Dalian. My friends Kaiser and Thomas have already been blogging from there.
Apparently wireless internet connection is working in the conference hall, though it is subject to China's usual "Great Firewall" (GFW) censorship. Thomas complains that his own blog is victim of the block, forcing him to resort to special technical measures in order to post.
I've got my usual toolset ready: Tor installed in my Firefox browser, enables me to get around the GFW at a somewhat slower speed.
I notice that the World Economic Forum does not have anybody blogging from China. Their blog hasn't been updated since May. Hmm.
Meanwhile, as CNet blogger Rick Martin points out, China is "in the midst of the most vicious censorship onslaughts ever put forth by the Chinese Internet Police." I wonder if this issue will be discussed at all in Dalian?
Radio Free Asia reported yesterday: "in an unprecedented move, the authorities have begun switching off entire Internet data centers (IDCs), which are home to thousands of servers."
Apparently this is a special measure to prevent any possible wave of dissent in advance of the 17th Communist Party Congress planned for October 15th. Shanghai blogger Wang Jianshuo, who usually stays away from politically sensitive subjects, is so frustrated he had to say something. Read his whole post but here is how he concludes:
That is just the beginning. The recent order from the "top guy" requires all Internet Data Center to mandatory close all "interactive sites". These sites include any kind of blogging, any kinds of BBS, or online forum, any kinds of comment features available on blog or content site. They really mean it this time. Many of my friends have closed the comment feature of their personal blog - many not be themselves, but by the hosting company.
It seems the pressure from top really makes people take it seriously. These days, all kinds of people are busy.
* Telecom companies are busy unplugging Internet cable for data centers one by one.
* Hosting companies that were already shutdown are either busy find out solutions for the closed sites, or handle waves of customer complains, or both.
* Those hosting company or sites which were lucky enough not have been shutdown are busy shutdown "interactive sites" themselves, to avoid the whole data center run into bigger problem.
* Bigger websites are preparing contingency plans about what they will do when they were shutdown.
* All kinds of small site webmasters, or independent bloggers are busy signing up hosting package from abroad (I would be interested to know how many more orders bluehost, dreamhost, or ipowerweb got from China these days)
* Bloggers hosting their blog on BSP can only keep their finger across and pray for their little blog.
If you ask me how I feel, as a blogger in China, I would say I am very very very frustrated about it.
Tangos Chan at China Web2.0 Review writes that "the situation is getting worse:"
IDCs in China are required to take self-discipline actions to close all BBSs, forums, Blogs, message boards or any kinds of interactive features in their hosted servers or virtual spaces, otherwise the whole IDCs may be closed completely. So if you want to start blogging, you may have to switch to a blogging service provider who has signed self-discipline pact, or to use a hosting service from abroad, such as Digital Nomads Project.
About one year ago, when I was asked how web 2.0 will affect the Internet regulations in China, I was still optimistic about it. But maybe I was wrong, now I’m very disappointed for all these happened.
Want to join the anti-GFW community? Here is the Facebook group.