In the event that you don’t feel like forking over the money for a vpn to skip around the pesky censors, you may want to wrangle a Kindle 3G off a friend/kind stranger because a few giddy net users have discovered that Amazon’s reading device is able to access banned sites in China without a problem.
Even though the Kindle is not sold directly to mainland customers on Amazon.cn, it’s readily available on Taobao, as you know, most everything is.
The South China Morning Post, who gave us the first report on this, includes this gem from a pleased Kindle-owner who surfed restrictions free:
“I still can’t believe it. I casually tried getting to Twitter, and what a surprise I got there,” a mainland blogger said. “And then I quickly tried Facebook, and it perfectly presented itself. Am I dreaming? No, I pinched myself and it hurt.”
Of course, the unrestricted access works only with the 3G model, not the one with wifi, which runs on local internet connections. There is also an even bigger caveat–that is, browsing on Kindle isn’t optimal. The authors over at Zhongnanhai, say “it’s a bit slow, the screen dimensions are not standard, and it’s black and white,” but nonetheless, enough to get out a tweet about your morning youtiao.
Now before you get too smug about leaping over the great firewall, Professor Lawrence Kwan from the University of Hong Kong says it’s definitely not a matter of an inability of the government’s part to bar Kindle users. Yeung says, “Even SMS are filtered on the mainland. They are more than capable of blocking this, too.” It’s more like a “we-couldn’t-be-bothered-to” thing going on here: “Every Kindle device is pre-registered to a personal account…every user’s information is clear. In addition, Kindle has a book-buying focus, so the censors may think these connections are relatively safe.”
You never know when the government might decide on a whim to close up that loophole and given the limited browser, it’s definitely not worth buying a Kindle specifically for this purpose, but if you happen to possess one already, now you know.