JISHOU, HUNAN — Sometime in the last week, China’s Internet gatekeepers decided to block Facebook, thereby cutting off my students (and thousands of other Chinese users) from communicating with their Facebook pals.
I can still use FB, but now I have to go through the Tor proxy network. Whatta pain.
China’s net nannies have been on a campaign recently to lock down the Internet, obstensibly to shut off access to pornography, but coincidentally to limit access to sites critical of the government. Given the recent riots in Xinjiang between Muslim Uighurs and local Han (the ethnic majority in China), one can only guess why Facebook has been banned here.
The media site, www.danwei.com, is now also blocked, too. Danwei’s writers are openly critical of Internet censorship in China, and provide links to news sites that are less biased than the official government sources.
For example, if you believe CCTV-9, the international arm of the state TV media, everything is just peachy keen in Xinjiang, where more than 150 people were killed earlier this month and where the army is patrolling the streets to prevent more outbreaks of ethnic violence. CCTV-9 interviewed a Westerner who teaches at a university in Urumqi, the provincial capital, and who said categorically that there were no problems on campus and everything is back to normal. We also got to see a queue of Chinese residents stuffing 100-yuan notes into a donation box — the whole scene was patently contrived for the telecast.
Of course, life in Urumqi is not so rosy, and outside media — including Youtube.com, blog sites, and one supposes also Facebook — would provide Uighurs a chance to get the real news out to the world.