Internet ? 没有.
The first time you try in vain to reach wwww.ilovepuppiesanddolls.com from China you realise something is rotten in the realm of 中国电信 (China Telecom). People have difficulties to imagine how chaotic can be the Chinese Internet and how hard it can be to survive when you are a 老外… I will teach you the secret tricks I learned from Chuck Norris himself to fight such an ennemy.
Lesson one : know your ennemy.
Let’s face it : the Chinese network is crap. Before even talking about censorship, filtering or firewall, you must realise that the hardware network is actually totally messed up. I would not advise you to take a look at your building electrical network ; it sure would be instructive but may prevent you from approaching any kind of electrical device for a pretty long time.
Having said that, let’s see what happen when you try to connect teddy.fr (in France) from Shanghai for example (this is what I could guess from IP traceroute and a few people I met in my former jobs) :
- your request is redirected to Beijing for “analysis”, and may be “lost”, for the sake of the Chinese nation (not that smart to visit the website of Tibetan monks publishing a novel about Tien An Men),
- if nobody in Beijing is against your demand, your request is sent back to Shanghai,
- you now want to go out of China, so you have to pass by Beijing (again),
- things are getting better ; the whole Pacific Ocean to cross,
- then it’s time to hang out a bit in the US : first Texas, then Missouri, Virginia, Ohio… back and forth,
- now we pass through the Atlantic Ocean to Europe,
- a few more hops and you are at home (do I need to tell you that the answer must now take the same route back ?),
And I must say that the Great Firewall of China is pretty efficient concerning “sensitive topics” (pretty much everything except the last episode of “Teletubbies”), including IP banning, domain banning and keywords filtering. You also have the option to pass by Japan or Honk Kong from time to time, to spice things up.
CRAPPY HARDWARE + CENSORSHIP + CRAZY REDIRECTIONS = YEE-HAW, 10 SECONDS TO DISPLAY THE GOOGLE HOMEPAGE
Note : the map was generated by GEO IP ROUTE.
Lesson two : none shall pass, sure dude.
The basic way to deal with unaccessible websites is to use a proxy. You can either :
- connect to a website which provides a proxy service,
- use a list of known proxies you directly connect to,
I would advise the first solution for occasionnal use. You can find many websites which provide proxy (or “anonymisation”) services. I often use Anonymouse.org and so far it has proven to be reliable. Just search on Google with such keywords : proxy, anonymous, anonymisation.
If you want to use the second solution, you must retrieve some anonymous proxies from a website such as Proxylists.net or PROXY list, or even better use ProxChecker.net which will retrieve and check everything for you. You then have a list of proxies, but what can you do with it ? If you use Firefox it is going to be really easy ; just download an extension which will deal with it (I personnaly use SwitchProxy). If you use another browser, specify the proxy you want to use in your browser’s settings.
Lesson three : 你说什么 ?
Now that you can roundhouse kick the Great Firewall of China and finally reach the websites you use to stuck with in Europe (or wherever you come from), you may want to see what is actually available on the Chinese network. If your Chinese is as good as mine, you REALLY gonna need some translation tools. You can either use an online Web application like Google Translate or Yahoo Babelfish, or a software like Babylon. I also recommend to all Firefox users the Translate extension (translates webpages with Google Translate and BabelFish).
Where to go now ?
- Baidu : arch-rival of Google, Baidu provides many services but two of them are particularly interesting ; Baidu Map and Baidu MP3 (niark). This last one is quite interesting ; who cares about eDonkey or Kazaa when you have Baidu MP3 which provides direct http downloads of almost all what you want. Just play with it to get an idea of what is possible…
- edushi.com: wonderful sim-city-like maps of several cities in China (including Shanghai). Check it out, really,
- Somme communities:
- you will find a lot of expatriates’ blogs out there, but ChinaBlogList seems a good way to quickly find the best,
- Shanghai Daily recently launched a really interesting website which gathers a lot of very very accurate information about life in Shanghai : Live in Shanghai,
- A map of Shanghai subway network,
- For those who are looking for a job :
- For those who are looking for a place to live :
A couple of more specific adresses :
- For rollerbladers: o22y (Hong Kong), SoulCrew (Shenzhen) and 540 Crew (Shanghai and Beijing),
- For geeks: changeIP (a dynamic DNS service which actually works in China),
Lesson four : what’s next ?
This post does not intend to be exhaustive ; it will be edited, enhanced and (maybe) finally posted as a page on Dark Teddy. For that, I need your feedback and suggestions : do not hesitate to contact me by mail or post a comment.