Uh-Oh, Did We Just Get Blocked By The Great Firewall?

The connection has timed out.

Just as I had finished up my original post for day, I discover that our website (http://chinadivide.com) was no longer loading. Only moments ago, everything was fine.

Crap, did we just get blocked by the Chinese government censors?

Noting that we were getting a connection time out error as opposed to a connection reset error1, I first checked if our website was loading for anywhere else in the world to make sure our hosting service wasn’t just having a hiccup. Unfortunately, it was, and was verified by me hopping on VPN personally as well. Several other tools then showed that http://chinadivide.com is not currently loading in Shanghai or Beijing, though is remains accessible most everywhere else in the world.

It may be too early to tell if it is us who got us blocked. We’re on shared hosting which means there are multiple websites sharing the same IP address our blog is hosted on. There’s a possibility that another website (like a porn site) has gotten blocked and we’re just collateral damage. Of the other websites I could find that were sharing our IP, I tried visiting. They too wouldn’t load, which confirms that our IP address is blocked as opposed to our website’s URL address itself. A quick test on Google confirms that our URL (“chinadivide.com”) is not itself unblocked.

If the reason we’re blocked is indeed because of ourselves, then we have a few options left. Custer thinks it might be the recent FLG content, believing that the Chinese government has some bot crawling for any website with the full name of the FLG on it and then blocking said websites. He says ChinaGeeks was blocked after posting some FLG content but got unblocked roughly a month later after he removed the FLG content. As such, we’ve made his two recent FLG posts private.

However, I’m not sure if I can wait around for a month to see if that’s true so I’m trying a few more tricks, like changing our IP address.

Mwuahahahaha…

Unfortunately, it’ll take a few hours to a few days before our new IP address will propagate throughout the internet2. That means it’ll be a few days before we know if china/divide will return to being freely accessible in mainland China without proxies or VPN or other circumvention tools.

Until then, keep your fingers crossed and wish us luck!

Saturday Update: Well, it looks like our new IP address has propagated, even to China (faster than I expected) but I’m now getting the dreaded “connection reset” error when trying to navigate to http://chinadivide.com. This is worrisome. Anyone else in China getting the same error when not on proxy or VPN?

Other websites located on the same new IP were at first still accessible but just now started throwing connection reset errors too. Ping tests show no loss of packets unlike before, so if there’s a different block, there’s, well, a different block going on. “chinadivide.com” is still allowed in search strings on Google, for example, so any keyword filter we’re triggering is limited to just our domain name by itself. However, I get a connection reset when trying Google’s cache for our website. Oh wait, that’s always the case.

Interestingly, we’re not indexed or listed in Baidu’s search results. Not sure if we were but no longer or just never were. Those bastards.

Again, what makes the GFW so effective is precisely how difficult it is to figure out just what’s going on and how they’re technically doing what they’re doing. They either slapped a number of redundant blocks on us, each being a different type, the first time around and while our IP change got out from under one, another type is covering for it. This would explain the change of error message I’m receiving. Either that, or they’re reading what I’m doing. They see us squirming out in one direction and they’re responding to what I do.

Anyone able to access us from China at this point?

Monday Update: At this point, four days later, we’re still blocked and the best explanation seems to be from Chris Tou on Google Buzz who says we’re being content-blocked on port 80, the HTTP port. This would explain why trying to access the website via a browser from mainland China results in an immediate connection reset despite pings and tracerts going through since we changed IPs. We don’t know if this content-block was placed on us right off the bat along with the IP block (as a contingency against us changing IPs) or if it was placed on us in reaction to us changing IP addresses (that “mwuahahaha” earlier was embarrassingly premature).

At this point, it looks like we’ll just have to wait and see if removing the FLG posts from public view will get us unblocked sometime in the near future.


  1. …which is what normally happens when you have a blocked keyword in your URL []
  2. Interestingly, I think they propagate slower in China too. While the rest of the world is seeing a website at its new IP address, China is still stuck trying to find it at the old one. []


54 Comments

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  1. Jack

    Fingers crossed. You guys hold a permanent place on my blog reading list. Good luck!

  2. I see it too!!!

    my right eye runs 西红纸公园 windows from a “computer city”

    my left eye runs an HP laptop…. also running “tomato garden” windows with a f*l*n g*ng 万岁 proxy server

    天啊!!

    song of the article,

    this dedicated for the PSB ‘thunder maker’ mofo’s

    a Classic, Classic song

    ACDC

    “you’ve been Thunder Struck!”

    real time
    real propaganda!

    • Where oh where is thou bairen?

      在东北!

      • bai ren

        like the so9ng. have an image of thor the german god of thunder using his mighty hammer to forge the wall.
        anyone know the name of the chinese god of thunder’s name?

        oh and dafu, you are the man, the light proxy i got from a scottsman in shanghai doesnt post had to use the f l g softwear i had passed onto me by a little bird known as establishment ;)

    • King Tubby

      Just goes to show that “Its a long way to the top, when you want to (seriously) rock and roll”.

  3. When you contemplated the article which you attempted to disguise the unmentionable, it must have crossed your collective minds that you were playing with fire? This seems to be a case of the reporters making the news…

  4. Something odd is going on because your site was inaccessible all last night (your morning) from here in the States. Just now it took a while to load, and first I got the “Site temporarily unavailable” message, then I refreshed the page and it eventually opened. So maybe there’s something else causing this, like a server issue?

    • Richard, I changed the IP address for our website last night so the site was inaccessible while the new IP address propagated. That was expected.

  5. Shanghaiist had the connection time-out as soon as we posted that FLG story too, but everything returned to normal as soon as we replaced “F*l*ng*ng” with “F4lung0ng”.

  6. Zuo Ai

    it was your scathing critique of “communist money” in the bus story…u shoulda known better

  7. Two possible explanations:

    #1: They’re temporarily blocking you it to enhance your limited credibility

    #2: They’re blocking you to suppress my controversial views

    • Zuo Ai
    • King Tubby

      PP Wrong on both counts. Its GFW world cup football envy. 1.4 billion people and the emerging economic superpower, reduced to producing cheap team mascots for such economic giants like Greece (olives and cooking oil), Uruguay and Cameroons (not much of anything).

      Unlike the Games and the Expo, this is one which you can’t buy, fabricate or orchestrate. I snigger…

  8. Christine

    Finger crossed for chinadivide. You guys are awesome!

  9. This might not be a block by the Firewall. I’ve had some issues my own sites as well. Where it would load for everyone else but me. This is due to some kind blocking the router assign to over accessing the same IP. Trying flushing your DNS or testing your connection with a different router first.

    • I’ve tried flushing my DNS but haven’t tried accessing from a different internet connection. That’s pretty much why I’m asking if anyone else in China is experiencing the same thing. I do know I’m on my normal connection, on VPN, and able to open up the site, but not without VPN.

  10. B-real

    Kai you use a mac too and firefox? Coooooo.

    Funny thing is American porn sites are going unblocked these days (me and my wife’s new thing we can enjoy together). But they blocked the F*lun Gon* shitz on ChinaD.

    Yeah I hope you guys can get thru this or just simply post and quickly take down blocked content after 24 hours or somthing like that.

    • bai ren

      got a list of a bunch of sites i regularly check to see how the blocking is going. many of them are porn sites. some of the world famous ones, ie playboy are regularly blocked. but the fre ones are usualy accessible. The problem is that for the most part links dont work, so sites that host their own material are the most ‘accessible’.

      Cd wasnt blocked from my domestic connection in herbin until today, all the flg stuff flew under the radar. this and other experiances I have had make me question if the firewall is not dependant on region and provider. I often find that internet bars are more restricted than domestic locations and poorer city districts more than the more wealthy areas. I dont have hard data on this only unrecorded personal experiance.

  11. pug_ster

    Nice job self censoring. Hopefully you will get the GFW’s good side and you will see your site unblocked again.

  12. Josh

    Pretty sure it’s because of that post labeled “Why I don’t like the FLG.” When I clicked the link, I was auto-blocked form any internet activity for a couple minutes.

    I don’t think there would have been any harm in simply writing FLG, or maybe F(a) L(un) G(ong). Kind of a rookie mistake, tbh. But maybe I’m just bitter because I couldn’t read that post, even via proxy.

  13. bai ren

    thunder is right. like the german god thor forging with his mighty hammer the GFW expands again.
    whats the chinese god of thunder’s name?

  14. bai ren

    @b-real
    my proxy is fing things up a bit and i dont know if I am replying to your post or making a new one
    american porn sites have (since 2004 at least) have never really faced major cencoring. I go through a list of a bunch of different sites to check the blocks every so often. with a lot of the porn you can goto the main host site but the links from there are blocked. those sites which host their own material are the most open ones.

    also the flg shizit on cd wasnt blocked from my domestic connection in harbin. i suspect there may be a bit of a regional difference and a provider difference in the use of the gfw as i often get different results on blocked sites depending where i log in from. but i am no techie

  15. Well – chauk it up to being a repeat link at various other “China Blogs” – and maybe a hate campaign going on over at the China Daily BBS against all “China Bashing Sites”. Regardless – this seems to be a right of passage for most sites – so take it in stride and keep on blogging.

  16. bai ren

    getting blocked up in harbin too. tried to post with my light proxy but didnt work.
    you guys are doing a good job if you have gotten blcoked a bit. civil society barks at the governance of authority, and when does that on the internet china is bound to exapnd their wall.
    does anyone know what the great bamboo wall is? a 60s chinese version of the iron curtian, or a joke about how many holes the gfw has?

  17. Added a situation update to the original post. Not looking good so far.

  18. Julian

    Blocked in Zhejiang.

  19. 8:10pm

    still no connection on my

    non-proxy computer

    am praying for you!

  20. Jay (a different one)

    Maybe there were too many chinglish comments lately?
    Maybe this is just a trick to get more VPN sales?
    Couldn’t be bothered before (who needs youtube or twitter?), but just now I’ve bought a VPN thingy and I’m back in business…

  21. Not able to get to the site in Harbin without my VPN.

    • bai ren

      where abouts in harbin? can you recommend me to a decent net bar? I am located close to the jia la fu on xi da zhi jie and if you dont know where that is give me a ring at byronrigelhauck”gmail.com

  22. @ Kai: We might also try removing all references to RF4 (replace the 4 with a similar looking letter), as that can sometimes be a “sensitive” word as well.

    This shit is so annoying.

  23. B-real

    can’t connect in Beijing without the Fdur operating. Can’t even get on the main page. B4 its was the FL* shitz and now all of CD. Shut her down kai put a new name up,hehe. You’re on their watch list.

    • LoL, Stan and I are packing our bags to flee the country. He’s already made it to Boston. I’m the straggler.

      • B-real

        I literally might be right behind you in a few weeks if my shop gets its doors closed by the Gov.

        • Yikes, that doesn’t sound good. Are you able to share any details with the curious?

          • Jones

            Looks like both of you need to…bridge the divide…between yourselves and the government. HEY-O

          • For the record: if the comment point system allowed me to work within basketball rules, Jones, that would have been a three-pointer!

          • B-real

            I run an Aviation engeering firm based in the US. Our current expansions are all over the world 1 being China out of the 2 currently up and running in Asia for 5 years now.
            Starting from the beginning our largest contract outsourced its maintenance anywhere outside of the US. Which meant they were cutting us out unless we were able to go where they went. So we followed them. For any one familiar with China’s customs any product, item, or commercial products such as an aircraft that is older than 15 years that is considered used and not property of China has no legal clearance to enter the land of China.

            My customer is not affected by this law because Beijing International Airport is Considered international duty free. If the aircraft stays on this land they are safe within the law.

            My operations are off airport ground but still in duty free zone. But the problem is duty free only allows processing of new products created in China. My company does not make any thing new in China. All still manufacture or procured from the US or where ever available and sent to our station in Beijing. But when I first started up thru a friend of a friend of the Gov, we were allowed to smoothly operate the first 2 years.

            3rd year, I have acquired 2 partners and expanded to local market. Been great up til the stinking Olympics, when China decided they wanted to actually reform, and enforce policies. Essentially we lost the hook up and was put on a watch list.

            Back to the duty free arrangement. The new guy in charge of Customs doesn’t understand how we have been operating when we have been breaking the law. No punishment is being sought but he is trying to evict me out of the duty free zone. By moving me out only 1 of my partners (Chinese) can make money doing the local Aircrafts owned by China but any foreign aircrafts can’t be serviced by me because I would be outside of duty free zone.

            This is where its gets interesting because now my largest customer is doing a total fleet re-mod for the next 3-5 years and no contractor to do the work. They can send the work to any of our shops outside of China but logistically its a big big hassle. Which the owner in California is not too happy about. Problems for him equals big money issues for me and our companies.

            Everyday I have to sit thru these long and drawn out meetings about what we are doing is unacceptable in Chinese and plea our case to Customs official. They have thrown the book at us this year and its not looking too good for us.

  24. lolz

    This is exactly why censorship is a bad thing.

  25. For the sake of more info: no connection issues in Taiwan. (Oh, Taiwan, thou art the island of liberty … )

  26. Jones

    Freedom isn’t free
    It costs folks like you and me
    And if we don’t all chip in
    We’ll never pay that bill
    Freedom isn’t free
    No, there’s a hefty fuckin’ fee.
    And if you don’t throw in your buck ‘o five
    Who will?

  27. 6 pm

    still no connection… on my tomato garden windows chinese computer,

    I got some info, wont tell you where or how…

    you guys will be shut down until after “J四”

    I believe it is a preventative measure,

    FLG was a flag,

    also some idiot mentioned the “jiu ping”

    That is a BIG RED flag!

    hope am wrong…

    五毛党-proxy