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So what about Tor and obfsproxy? Does it actually (still) work? If so, why don't more people use it?; if not, why not?

I can't easily find up-to-date information about this through Google - which I find odd, since China is such an important use case for Tor that I would expect them to maintain some sort of status page. Maybe the information is more readily available in Chinese...

Tor doesn't work most of the time. Not sure about obfsproxy. Here is some reasons why I think Tor is not successful:

+ GFW is very aggressive at detecting these traffic and is okay with false positive.

+ A very very large portion of the population lacks basic skill to setup Tor or similar tools. CS education is almost non-exist or useless if you are not a college student with CS major.

+ Doesn't have good mobile support, especially on iOS.

+ Slow and not stable. Those who know how to set these up, like myself, would probably prefer a more reliable tunnel, e.g. shadowsocks/cisco anyconnect.

Last year, obfsproxy was absolutely still effective in China. There are several comments here that "Tor doesn't work". Yes, vanilla Tor hasn't worked for years now. While it's true China has managed to block obfsproxy for short periods, the Tor developers are constantly release updates that circumvent the blocks.

Source: I've lived in China for 3 of the past 5 years, using Tor and VPNs everyday I was there.

I just got back from a few months in China. These services are definitely blocked through DPI. It's frustrating. It's also interesting what happens to your mind when you can't read what you'd like to, talk about what you'd like to, and revert the accepted status quo for everything.

While you were there, did you get a feel for whether people there would pay for a semi-reliable bridge through the firewall?

"Will they pay for freedom"? Seriously?

I thought it was a good question.

"Do people in China in general care enough about censorship to pay for access to uncensored internet?" doesn't have an explicitly obvious answer, does it?

They could be happy with their internet as is. They could be unhappy and willing to pay. They could be unhappy but unwilling/unable to pay.

I think there's a parallel here with how the FCC tries to censor certain words and images, but you can pay a premium to get them via non-public, historically illegal [1], means.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1468

westerners do; locals not so much.

The last I heard they were giving bridge addresses to friends within the country that were spreading them through their social networks (since china had blocked all the bridge addresses they were giving out online). That along with the obfuscation stuff was working.

China's deep packet inspection was pretty sophisticated though and getting worse (usually ramping up during political events). It'd be interesting to see an update, but I haven't seen a talk from Roger Dingledine or Jacob Appelbaum about it in a while.

b/c you're kinda missing the point of the firewall

First all 99% of the Chinese internet content is hosted domestically - so unless a Chinese person is fluent in english it's harder to access foreign information, and they have their own cat videos anyways

The goal really is to have no institutions that rival the government for organizing people and disseminating information. You can always get around the firewall, and news sites are actually accessible - even sometimes facebook will work from China. The system isn't perfect, but the authorities are happy if at the end of the day people don't have twitter/facebook/G+ accounts, they don't visit foreign sites regularly b/c they've been made unreliable, and they end up in domestic forums where things can be monitored and contained.

When authorities see the Arab Spring Twitter revolution they're probably thinking "yeaaahhh... that's exactly what we want to avoid. No foreign social media please"

The biggest barrier to the outside world is the language barrier. That's not just true for China.

When I was out there last year, I was able to use VPNs to access otherwise blocked services (e.g. Facebook, Google etc). My (British) friend who lives there is still able to use VPNs. He is based in Shenzhen, which has a thriving tech scene, so I guess they are more lax with blocking VPNs there. Nevertheless, he is moving to HK soon to escape some of the restrictions

It's quite weird having an android phone in China, since almost all the services are blocked.

Tor is not usable in China, simply because all of the entry point have been blocked by GFW.

obfs4-type Tor bridges should still work iirc? (https://bridges.torproject.org/bridges?transport=obfs4)

meek should also work in mainland China. See https://blog.torproject.org/blog/how-use-%E2%80%9Cmeek%E2%80...

From what I understand OpenVPN tunneled through stunnel works, but I haven't tried it myself.

Setting yourself up with your own private bridge might be another way to go.

Lots of VPNs work. For a while (maybe still), with proper internet speed even the Opera Developer Browser built in "VPN" worked, and worked faster than most normal VPNs.

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