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Explore the Web From China 165

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from "It slows down your browsing. It makes some Web sites inaccessible for no discernible reason. It doesn't even offer you any xiao long bao or pu'er tea for your troubles. But if you want to know what life behind the Great Firewall of China is like, then the Firefox plug-in China Channel is the cheapest and fastest way to experience using the Internet in China without actually being there."
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Explore the Web From China

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  • Proxy or simulation? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:43AM (#25565325)

    Does this plugin actually proxy your web browsing through a Chinese host? Or does it just randomly mess with your requests?

    Kind of reminds me of apt-gentoo [].

    • Answer: Proxy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:45AM (#25565333)

      Sorry to reply to my own post, but I just found in TFA where it says that the plugin routes you through a Chinese proxy.

      I can't imagine this open proxy will last long.

      • TFA is terrible (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nullchar ( 446050 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @01:08AM (#25565469)

        A ghastly article that is shoddy on details. It barely mentioned it was a proxy (as I was also wondering if this was a simulation). The article describes that the toolbar will display your new IP, but the screenshots do not show it.

        Also, in regards to the extension:

        1. The "China Channel" is a horrid name
        2. w00t, just what every browser needs, yet another screen-real-estate-sucking toolbar
        3. To get the same experience, why not use one of the many [] proxy [] switching extensions. Then go find a list of Chinese proxies so you can cycle through them.

        I do, however, respect the point of showing the rest of the world how the web "feels" inside of China.

        On a related note, does anyone have a list of proxies organized by country? As a web developer, I would love to test various web sites that geo-code the IP and dynamically display different content.

        • >>>yet another screen-real-estate-sucking toolbar

          You know you CAN turn-off the toolbars. Right? For example I turned-off the Google bar, Noscript bar, and Status bar using Firefox's "view" menu. :-)


          I think this is a really useful plugin. The China Channel could used as a strong argument against government filtering. "If Australia or the European Union institutes filtering, here's what it would be like," and then demonstrate all the websites you can not access. Finish the demo by asking, "

      • Do you mean, there would be countless people, who want to share the joy of Chinese People's Internet experience?
      • Re:Answer: Proxy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cyberon22 ( 456844 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @03:59AM (#25566207)

        Are people really going to develop web applications for Chinese users and not host them in China? Do they think Chinese users surf a lot of English language content on budget shared hosts?

        Not to trivialize the censorship issues involved, but if someone really wants to know what surfing the Internet is like for Chinese people, they should learn Chinese and read their complaints in person. There are plenty of sites that offer language lessons basically for free these days. My favorite is Popup Chinese [] because their hosts speak standard mandarin and they have a great popup dictionary plugin.

        Once you know the language you can get out into the actual Chinese Internet. Find out the difference between Baidu and Google. Have Tencent screw up your computer. Watch videos on youku and surf chat forums. It takes time to get to the point where this is comfortable for second language speakers, but Chinese is looking a lot more valuable than banking at this point.....

        • if someone really wants to know what surfing the Internet is like for Chinese people, they should learn Chinese and read their complaints in person.

          I tend to pick up languages fairly easily, so one time I tried to learn Chinese. All I learned from the experience is that my brain doesn't do tonal languages. At all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kongjie ( 639414 )

          Not to trivialize the censorship issues involved, but if someone really wants to know what surfing the Internet is like for Chinese people, they should learn Chinese and read their complaints in person. There are plenty of sites that offer language lessons basically for free these days. My favorite is Popup Chinese [] because their hosts speak standard mandarin and they have a great popup dictionary plugin.

          I'd really like to speak with one of these people who learned Chinese from a Web site. In Chinese.

          If you want to learn Chinese, take a really good Chinese class. For a couple years at least. And while you're doing that, use sites like popup chinese as practice, auxiliary learning and reinforcement.

          Although that site and other similar sites can be accessed for free, if you are on one of the paid plans a lot more features are enabled. The problem is that they're not cheap--like $20/month for the first tier.

      • by Miseph ( 979059 )

        "I can't imagine this open proxy will last long.'

        I can. It wouldn't be that big a surprise to me if the Chinese, upon discovering the proxy and its purpose, start working to improve the Internet experience it is given. The point is to show how intrusive and controlling the Great Firewall is to outsiders, presumably in the hope that it will increase diplomatic pressure on China to stop it... how better to defeat that than to make it appear as though everything is actually pretty much OK over on the other sid

      • ...the plugin routes you through a Chinese proxy. I can't imagine this open proxy will last long.

        Either that, or the Chinese government was the one that set up the proxy, the Chinese government will strongly advise Chinese travelers to install that plugin, and it will start scanning laptops [] and cell phones [] for any sign of illegal content/web sites whenever Chinese people reenter their country. That being said, I'm probably just being freaking paranoid. A country like China could never be as repressive, no

    • Does this plugin actually proxy your web browsing through a Chinese host? Or does it just randomly mess with your requests?

      Kind of reminds me of apt-gentoo [].

      This plugin is based the SwitchProxy Tool plugin. Also, from the release notes:
      - Find an awesome source for Chinese proxy servers, and keep the list updated.

  • Fear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:43AM (#25565327) Homepage Journal

    Can it recreate the fear that making the wrong post on a blog will get you arrested?

  • by Forrest Kyle ( 955623 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:44AM (#25565331) Homepage
    I hear there is an update coming soon that simulates what its like to disagree with the government in China. It's pretty cool. You install the plugin and a tank will instantly appear and run you over.
    • by Atriqus ( 826899 )
      Wow that was in poor taste!

      ...I like it. :D
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't know, since the guy from that iconic picture was not run over, and allegedly was never even found after he left the street, the joke just seems flat to me.

      • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @01:44AM (#25565639) Journal

        Actually, telling the truth is more often than not "in poor taste" ... at least according to how I see the world. You might or might not agree, but most of the population is either afraid or ignorant of the truth. Sure, that puts this close to a tin foil hat argument, but as my grandfather used to say "there is no smoke without fire" and there is usually a fire burning behind a tin foil hat story.

        Life really is not how the MSM portrays it. They will lie to you without thinking twice, and smile when they do it. If it was not for the Internet, most Americans would have no readily accessible access to 'real' news. I'm not saying the BBC or Al Jazeera are absolute poster children for good news sources, but they do a hell of a better job most days than network news in the USA.

        So yes, that might have been in poor taste... so lets celebrate someone that wants to poke fun by hinting at the truth. Most Chinese citizens under the age of 25 do not know what they are looking at when presented with a photo or picture of 'tank man'... hence the real value of the humor.

        • by Atriqus ( 826899 )
          ...I guess I should have used the <injest> tag.

          Of course telling the truth in its own shouldn't be in poor taste. I just jokingly noted that using such a topic specifically for the purposes of humor may not sit well with some people (with the ps that I was not apart of such a group). It had nothing to do with the actual discussion of the events.

          Put it like this: I'm sure there's at least few people in New York that are very open to talking about 9/11, but will react very differently the moment y
        • Actually, it seems to me like there is plenty of smoke for which no fire has ever been found, and for which it's been even proven that a fire never existed. And increasingly more there are agencies (e.g., PR agencies) _paid_ to create fake smoke to convince you to buy someone's snake oil. Astroturfing, buzz marketing campaigns, PR campaigns, think-tanks, fake news, FUD campaigns, etc, you name it. There's a whole industry whose job is to make lots of smoke, and hope you're stupid enough to believe that ther

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shaitand ( 626655 )

            There are also plenty of fires behind the smoke. In fact, most of the smoke you are referring to exists largely to convince the 'reasonable' people like yourself that there are no fires.

            What better way to hide conspiracies than to convince the logical people that all conspiracy theorists are crackpots. Never you mind that dozens of old conspiracy theories are admitted or uncovered every day. How many crazy whispered crackpot CIA conspiracies were confirmed recently by the director when he declassified docum

    • Not for me. I learned my lesson after trying to use a goto []...

  • Hm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:47AM (#25565351)

    We should make a system that loads every page you visit from 3~4 countries. Then have a notification if any differences are found, and what they are. It'd be interesting to see who's blocking what. Curious about Australia recently, I like hearing about the supposed good guys doing bad things. It makes the 'i hate commies' people uncomfortable, atleast enough to shut it.

    • Re:Hm (Score:4, Informative)

      by Xiroth ( 917768 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @01:24AM (#25565541)

      For the record, the Australian proposal is unlikely to go ahead, due to opposition in the senate []. Yay for divided parliament.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by z0idberg ( 888892 )

      As an Australian I was considering setting something like this up through a webhost in the USA. Basically have the given url side by side through an Aus proxy and also directly out through the US host to determine whether a site is being filtered. If and when this internet filter comes online but also to see if you are unwittingly part of a trial for it.

      Any thoughts on issues with this? My main concern would be the fact that as any url can be entered you are potentially opening yourself up for trouble in th

      • I think it would be easier for a company with international portals to do it. I assume search engines like Google HAVE to deal with the discrepancies. It would be interesting to simply have them release these logs.

  • Or, for Aussies... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Keramos ( 1263560 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:49AM (#25565357)
    Or you could wait a bit, and just surf from Australia. Yay.
  • North Korea (Score:5, Funny)

    by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:52AM (#25565379)
    That's nothing. I made a plugin to simulate internet experience from North Korea. I will release it if I can get on the slashdot front page.
  • Meh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:52AM (#25565383) Homepage Journal

    When I was using the internet in various cafes in Beijing, I didn't notice any blocks from sites I wanted to visit. I could update my livejournal, and ssh to my computer in America, so I'm not really sure what the great firewall really could accomplish. I mean, I could feasibly tunnel all of my connection through the ssh link, after all.

    That said, while I was ssh-ed into my home computer, a Beijing police officer came in and started walking around looking at people's computers...

    • Re:Meh (Score:4, Informative)

      by setagllib ( 753300 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @12:54AM (#25565389)

      I can't even tell if you're joking. I can't even tell if that's ironic or just depressing.

      • Joking about what?

        I mean, yeah, while I was sshed into my home computer (and marvelling that they could possibly be so stupid as to allow a default-port ssh connect when trying to build a restrictive firewall), a policeman came in and started checking on people.

        It sounds weird to American ears (because policemen are expensive here), but in China, labor is dirt cheap. I once saw a policeman posted full time guarding a "park" which was about 30'x30'.

        • I don't think it's stupid to allow SSH. They never claimed they were trying to block all politically sensitive content for all people. They only implemented primitive measures to hide sensitive content from the general population, who, just like any general population, don't even know what SSH stands for.

          The technically capable population will work out a way around virtually anything. Knowing how to use SSH implies knowing how to change port numbers. There's no point blocking the default SSH port if you're

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Were you doing this during the Olympics? Because, y'know, they did a crap load of PR work during the Olympics, including making internet browsing much easier, so that foreigners would get a positive impression and spread anecdotes like yours.

    • Re:Meh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jroysdon ( 201893 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @01:09AM (#25565475) Homepage

      Yeah, no intimidation for the locals with an officer walking around. Could you imagine that at a public library or Starbucks in the US? Oh, wait, we do have to show ID before we can use the computer at our local library. But no police walking around.

      No doubt you had full access due to your foreign ID/passport that I'm sure you were required to show before you were given access.

      If you were in China during or up to the Olympics, you experienced a totally different internet than before and again now with things back to normal. Things were wide open at the internet cafes - but of course they still had all the IDs of whatever citizens were foolish enough to do something or try something they shouldn't. They needn't arrest them in the cafe, they'll just wait for them to go home and arrest them there.

      • Re:Meh (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RobertinXinyang ( 1001181 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @01:35AM (#25565599)

        I have never had to show my passport to use an internet cafe in P.R. China. It is pretty obvious that I am a foreigner. However, my friend has a special card that she uses to use an internet cafe.

        I have posted on this in the past, but always get modded down for it. The Chinese students have positive feelings about the "real ID" used to access the internet. There a tremendous amount of cheating and scamming in Chinese daily life, much more so than in America, and they feel that the "real ID" decreases the possibility that they will be cheated.

        This is particularly true in social chat rooms and on QQ (a popular chat program in China).

        • A friend of mine recently returned from northern China. She had her travel documents copied and the time of her visit noted repeatedly when visiting Internet cafes.

          • I think enforcement as well as the rules and regulations vary significantly depending on region and possibly even on the internet cafe.

            I know the so-called "Great Firewall" isn't one enormous system spanning the whole of China, but a disjointed group of systems running the same hardware for approximately the same purpose. But the sites filtered vary regionally, with certain local municipalities choosing to filter some sites and others choosing to filter others. There's probably a set of filters that exist o

          • by Rycross ( 836649 )
            I used an internet cafe in Japan, and had my passport copied as well. For what its worth, its not necessarily that the government is trying to keep tabs on you.
        • What would they be cheated from? How is the "real ID" going to decrease them from being cheated?

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            As an example, some guys like to play as many girls as they can. I know you may doubt it, but it has been known to happen.

            Knowing who they are really talking to makes them feel safer. I know that is something that Slashdoters may think is silly; but, not everyone online is who or what they say they are... really...

    • by ozphx ( 1061292 )

      Haha. Try then ;) That was blocked the entirety of september when I was in Wuhan.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by boyter ( 964910 )

      I lived in China for about 2 years and belive me stuff is blocked. At first it dosn't feel like it but as time goes on it is noticable. Wikipedia fluctuated between blocked and unblocked, the BBC was always blocked, CNN would go down from time to time, any home resolver DNS was blocked. Interestingly the Chinese guys I worked with used to complain quite a lot about blocked stuff.

      So while you might not have experienced it in the short term belive me it happens. What was interesting was the censorship of the

  • I was on there for like five minutes when I landed on Chairman Mao's old GeoCities page. Man, how time flies! If you haven't seen it before there's a cool animated .gif of "Mao's Corner" being written in Mao-style calligraphy. The last update indicated that his urine output was down to 290cc a day. We'll miss ya, big guy. Drink more fluids on the other side.
  • Anyone knows of a simple way to temporarily slow down your internet connection on Mac OS X?

    It would be nice to be able to test various connection speeds for websites. I need to test multiple browsers, so a Firefox plug-in won't do.

    • by Tsujiku ( 902045 )
      Download a large torrent with lots of traffic?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I park a truck in the tube, so when I receive an internet is takes longer to come through, because there's not enough room for my internet and other internets.

    • by ProfessionalCookie ( 673314 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @01:36AM (#25565601) Journal
      Dunno about MacOS X (which, is my primary platform) but in Linux you can use traffic controller- something like

      tc qdisc add dev eth1 root hadle ee:0 tbf rate 56kbit burst 8Kb latency 100ms

      Which basically means something like add a Token Bucket Filter queue discipline to the interface eth1 with the handle ee:0 (arbitrary if this is the only discipline) using those properties. There's other kinds of filters too. You can just run this on your Linux router/firewall (on the port from the router to your mac). You do have a Linux router and a Mac right? The best part is that since it's running on the router it's platform independent downstream. I think I saw a shareware bit on macupdate that does what you're asking directly on your mac (this might be it? []) but if you already have a router in place the linux route is great and you can tweak it via ssh, switching add for change.

      Cheers, Ed

  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @01:20AM (#25565511)
    Many ISPs outside of China, ban entire blocks of addresses that originate inside China.

    If you happen to be browsing from a computer that has an IP address corresponding to a range that has been banned in North America, as an example, you will find it hard to reach various sources that people in NA can reach without issue. Example: GoDaddy hosted sites.

    This has nothing to do with anything related to 'The Great Firewall'...
  • Yes! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Sasayaki ( 1096761 )

    I for one look forward to being able to bypass my draconian Australian censorship by proxying into China!

    Thank you, my benevolent Chinese overlords! BTW, what's the real story behind Tian

  • I can't check this myself at the moment - has anyone checked whether the Chinese proxy is non-transparent - does it leak the forwarded IP address (your IP address) in the http headers?

    Also, I wonder who runs this Chinese proxy? Is it the Chinese government's? Is there any reason to trust the proxy for any purpose except testing?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No joke one time I searched for a banned chinese phrase on, and I was banned from all Google domains for 24 hours. Blocked at the IP address level. Either Google or Comcast are extending the Chinese firewall to the US. Other sites worked and I could access Google from a proxy server. I emphasize that I live in the United States.

  • And realised it was blocking sites that are actually open through my ISP (I'm in Beijing).

    Anyway it's not the blocking of sites that's a worry, it's the moderation of forums for sensitive issues. Check out for some nice tidbits. Sometimes they get posts translated before they're removed.

  • Only foreigners care (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dwater ( 72834 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @02:38AM (#25565875)

    Almost no one in China cares about the firewall. The only sites the Chinese want access to are already on their side - the majority of them can't read anything but Chinese anyway.

    It's really only foreigners that care.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mgiuca ( 1040724 )

      Excellent. Then the Chinese Government are victorious.

      It's one thing to oppress the people. But it's always going to make a lot of people very unhappy and will widely be regarded as a bad move.

      If you can oppress the people and they don't care, then you're a 5 star tyrant government!

      • by dwater ( 72834 )

        I was more commenting on the complete lack of interest in web sites *outside* China, rather than oppression, per se.

        I think the people care about oppression on the whole, but I don't think most people consider blocking web sites as much to do with that.

        Personally, I wonder why they bother...

  • explore the web from china!

    practice christianity in saudi arabia!

    be an outspoken journalist in russia!

    be a part of the world tour of persecution!

  • by layer3switch ( 783864 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @02:57AM (#25565947)

    "It slows down your browsing. It makes some Web sites inaccessible for no discernible reason."

    heh, I thought, Comcast was only in Americas.

    • by Renegade88 ( 874837 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:06AM (#25566455)
      The comment is funny, but even for Slashdot the punctuation is awful. you probably mean:

      Heh, I thought Comcast was only in the Americas.
      "Heh", I thought, "Comcast was only in the Americas."
      Heh, I thought. Comcast was only in the Americas.
      or if the separate sentences are consequential:
      Heh, I thought; Comcast was only in the Americas.
      or use a conjunction:
      Heh, I thought and Comcast was only in the Americas.

      What were you doing during 7th grade english class?
  • Depends... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by everdown ( 1396799 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @03:20AM (#25566041)
    As someone who lives in China and travels extensively within the country, I can tell you that everything depends on the city. Internet is slow generally, but sites that work in Shanghai or Wuhan or don't necessarily work in Beijing or Nanjing. Most every site that I've ever wanted to visit and is not something that would be obviously banned (not hard to guess what these topics might be) has been available. One site I haven't been able to get for whatever reason is the Huffington Post, though I can access cached copies and referenced articles...
  • I've just got back from four months living in Shanghai for work. I got to the point where I installed a proxy on a machine in California and used it over the VPN. I'd be sitting at home using Facebook, and after 15 minutes it would get slower and slower, and then start timing out. I'd clear the DNS cache on my Mac, take Firefox off and online, and then it would start working again, for a while. Or maybe not. Websites that were fast at home, could't be accessed from the office in Shanghai, but could be

  • How did they figure the china firewall is the cause for slow browsing? Or maybe it's the fact you and all people using this plugin are funnelling their traffic through a single proxy accross the globe...

  • ... because it feels so good when I stop.

  • Welcome to the newest in FUD technology! Which just happens to be the same as the old version, but stated more emphatically - again, again, again, ... [echoes fading into to the background] - This time from samzenpus; well, who would have thought it?

    As others have noted, if you were to actually go to China and try the internet, you would find that it works pretty much the same as elsewhere. And just as elsewhere you will sometimes have trouble with your connection - last I was in Beijing (~1 month ago) I fo

  • Wow, now I can get a feel what it will be like here when the government implements its thinkofthechildrenâ filter!

  • Once they implement the Freedom Proof Fence.

  • I just returned from a 2-week trip to China. I had already been there a year ago, so I compared my internet experience; I had bookmarked all those sites that were apparently blocked.

    The result is surprisingly positive: Many of these sites were unblocked, especially the Chinese wikipedia was almost unblocked; only a few pages still didn't load.

    What still failed were sourceforge downloads from Taiwan, and Chinese language sites dealing explicitly with Tibet.

    I didn't find any English site blocked.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham