It’s been nearly half a year since the riots in Xinjiang happened. For us outside of the “new frontier,” getting news about the state of affairs is difficult, if possible at all: the internet has been thoroughly tightened since the riots, blocking just about everything not hosted inside the province. Very little information flows in or out, so most of our updates have been from Far West China, a great blog on the trials of living in Xinjiang, especially in the wake of this year’s tumult.
Their most recent post concerns internet censorship, and their efforts in trying to circumvent it. We’re fascinated by a number of facts about China’s internet that we had previously not known, but had kind of assumed. For instance, did you know there are sites that stream movies that you can only use after you register with your residential ID? Neither did we. But we think these few are our favorite new bits of knowledge:
From Far West China:
While planning for travel on the October holiday this year I was advised by my school and the local security bureau to stay put for the holiday. I couldn’t believe it. I politely went to the police station and had a conversation with the highest official who would talk to me. I explained to him that because of bank issues, family communication, and general sanity I needed to get on the internet. I needed him to either allow me online or allow me to leave.
First of all, he explained, there was a computer in the security office that had full internet access, but this IP was strictly for monitoring activity in the city. No surprise there, I guess, although I wished he would have let me see this sacred computer. My second option was to leave the province – and he gave me the permission to do so.
But his third option was what surprised me. Individual IP’s, according to this officer, could be opened up with the appropriate permission. This permission, however, had to be granted at three different levels: city, province, and national. And all of them had to be applied for in person. Apparently this is what companies have to do who require online activity for business.
It makes sense that the government can unblock the internet for businesses, but we didn’t know that individuals could apply. Looking forward, the blog states that the internet outage should be repealed sometime around the May holiday, which means nearly a year will have gone by under these conditions. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so hard to get on twitter or facebook anymore, does it?