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So you want your app/website to work in China (chanind.github.io)
327 points by chanind 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 157 comments



My best best advices are not listed there

- Stop using Google CDNs

- Stop using Google fonts

- Don't put Google Analytics in the header (or don't use it) otherwise will block/delay the browser load the website.

Most of the websites just timeout because of those 3 things and make the website imposible to navigate.

If you host your website in a normal VPS, without using Google services you will have a quite nice chance that the website loads pretty fast there in China.

edit: formatting


My biggest frustration while browsing in China was reCAPTCHA. Most websites would load fine, but then they would detect that I was in a new location and this would trigger their account protection bullshit and ask me to complete a reCAPTCHA that...wouldn’t load. This happened ALL THE TIME and is just excruciating.

Sometimes there wouldn’t even be UI that would load to indicate something was wrong. Logins would just fail with cryptic messages.


Because they probably hadn't written specific error messages for "half the auth packets came back destroyed or missing".


IMHO good advice even when you're not looking specifically at China.

I know some enterprise environments are, not surprisingly, not too fond of 3rd-party scripts, and their firewalls could be nearly as bad too.


The Decentraleyes Firefox extension alleviates this somewhat as it caches popular things like jquery (that are often hosted by Google) locally on your device, making foreign websites load quicker.


You can still use them, but a different URL. Google has a CDN in China for those fonts and stuff. Also Google Analytics are not blocked at all in China.


Is the CDN different for fonts?


How about Recaptcha?


My bad, what I really meant is: What are the suitable replacement for Recaptcha?


I'm thinking that generally it works but the other night during the nightly internet apocalypse I had to disable it all to use my own site.

Will have to double check...


yep, during the day you don't really notice cause VPNs work etc but once it gets to night, everything stops working


does not load


> - Stop using Google fonts

I think we can avoid Google font CDNs for fonts but we can use them from our assets i.e download the font and use it from your assets instead of Google CDN.


you are absolutely right.

Stackoverflow use Google CDN. The one to be blamed is the chinese GFW. but it will be much better if they do not use google service. Maybe they do not bother to serve user in china.


I avoid these 3 for every website. I want to be in control of what my website delivers and who can trafk my users


Google Analytics is OK. It doesn't affect performance very much.


Only if the vanilla analytics product without any adwords or partner scheme options (i.e. coming from google-analytics.com rather than anything coming from Google.com). Plus it could disappear on a whim (as did Bing for a couple of days last month), so unless the use-case is unavoidable, why not self-host?


I'm always surprised how Golang got so popular in China in such environments.


well. lot of programmers in china know how to use the internet "scientifically" (科学上网), which means "use VPN".

PS: VPN is a blocked keyword, so we say "use internet scientifically"


I'm Chinese. It's not that bad.

* I've been hosting my Chinese blog in US vps since 2009 and it works fine.

* I have Gitea hosted in US vps and it works fine too.

* GoDaddy has Alipay (sort of China's PayPal) up for a long time.

* ICP Licenses are easy to get (at least for Chinese) and typically take less a month. I've done it for my company's websites and my clients' websites.

* ICP licenses are required only if you want to host your website in China. Hosting in China is ridiculously expensive and many Chinese go out of their way to host elsewhere. For 9$ a month you get 1 cpu, 1G ram and 1MBit bandwidth, which translates to 128kb/s.

To make your website load, and load fast in China:

* Remove Google fonts, Google cdn, resources from FB, twitter, etc. this should fix 95% of your problem.

* Avoid well-known host providers (AWS, Vultr, Linode) if you can, they tend to get banned.

* Get a host with CN2. I heard hosting in Hong Kong is fast too. It's only necessary if you really want your site to be lightning fast. As a Chinese, if I'm visiting your website and your website is in English, then I probably expect it to be slow, so...


CN2 is basically a fast lane to China that you can buy from one of China's biggest internet providers (China Telecom). It has two flavors, CN2GT[0] and CN2GIA[1], CN2GIA is said to be faster.

Some vps providers buy these fast lanes, make their vps fast to access in China, and sell them to hungry Chinese users. The most popular one is Bandwagon[2].

[0] https://www.ctamericas.com/products-services/internet/global...

[1] https://www.ctamericas.com/products-services/internet/global...

[2] https://bandwagonhost.com/cart.php


> Hosting in China is ridiculously expensive and many Chinese go out of their way to host elsewhere

If I host in Europe or US would the speed of traffic going into China be very slow?

If I get a 1Gbps server in EU most likely I can serve 1Gbps to USA. Will I be able to serve 1Gbps to China from that EU server?

> For 9$ a month you get 1 cpu, 1G ram and 1MBit bandwidth

That is insanely expensive. How can startups in China handle that kind of hosting cost? Where do they host their websites?

> Get a host with CN2

What's CN2? Where can I find their website?


Having used Alibaba Cloud for the past few years, and having been in China for the past month, I would say:

> If I host in Europe or US would the speed of traffic going into China be very slow? ... Will I be able to serve 1Gbps to China from that EU server?

Not sure about 1Gbps, but I've seen my 200Mbps band basically saturated. It's rather spotty though -- definitely not 200Mbps all the time. Latency is a very big problem here, so make sure you do TCP tuning right; without TCP tuning you might see awful speeds.

> That is insanely expensive. How can startups in China handle that kind of hosting cost? Where do they host their websites?

The insanely expensive part is bandwidth. For instance with Alibaba Cloud, a 1 vCPU, 1G RAM, 20G SSD instance with pay-as-you-go network billing is like $6/mo so it's not that bad, and there are promotions year round so if you're committed for say one year at a time you can usually get it for maybe half the list price, but outbound bandwidth is a whopping $0.123/GB (which is actually not that different from AWS/GCP's Asia pricing).

I don't know about startups but I suppose it's fine if you host static assets through a CDN and only use the expensive bandwidth from compute for truly dynamic content.


> so make sure you do TCP tuning right; without TCP tuning you might see awful speeds.

Any suggestions on how to tune TCP for this situation?

> I suppose it's fine if you host static assets through a CDN and only use the expensive bandwidth from compute for truly dynamic content.

Wouldn't the bandwidth cost of CDN be even higher than that of Alibaba Cloud?


> Any suggestions on how to tune TCP for this situation?

Roughly speaking, TCP throughput is window size / latency, and the default window size on Linux is usually pretty small, so for high latency connections (US to CN roundtrip is usually several hundred ms) the throughput would be bad. Increasing TCP buffer sizes goes a long way. In addition to buffer sizes, finer tuning is possible via other options/parameters; just find a guide online, there are plenty.

> Wouldn't the bandwidth cost of CDN be even higher than that of Alibaba Cloud?

Hmm, shouldn't CDNs for static assets be cheaper than bandwidth associated with compute instances in general? For instance, Alibaba Cloud's CDN offering starts at $0.04/GB (in Mainland China) for the first 50TB, and gradually decreases from there.[1]

[1] https://www.alibabacloud.com/product/cdn/pricing


> If I host in Europe or US would the speed of traffic going into China be very slow?

I'm not sure, but I guess it should be nowhere near 1Gbps. You'll have to test it to find out.

> How can startups in China handle that kind of hosting cost?

It's mainly bandwidth that's expensive, but there is cheap cdn/cloud storage for static files, like videos. Then you can also pay by traffic, which is around $0.12/Gb.


CN2 stands for ”ChinaNet Next Carrying Network“


How do you manage to work during the night? External internet gets throttled so much that trying to load pages like Gitlab take minutes and a simple `git pull` can take 5 minutes. All VPNs stop working and even obscure sites like payment providers and Slack seem to only run at around 5kbps. I'm guessing it's not normal for people to work outside of 9-6?


I honestly don't notice a big difference, plus my self-hosted VPN still works as fast. So I guess a reliable VPN is the answer.


Perhaps my issue is that my VPN is hosted in a common place like DigitalOcean. Maybe a lesser known host is the trick?


Thanks, I live in China too. I want to know is it easy to update ip address associated with ICP license? I seek an option to transfer from more expensive to cheaper vps solution and want to maintain icp license I already got.


As far as I know, you can't do that, since your ICP license is tied to a host provider (like Aliyun), if you host your site somewhere else, you risk having your license revoked.


> Get a host with CN2. I heard hosting in Hong Kong is fast too.

Tested Alibaba Cloud in honkers from Shenzhen and Guangzhou late last year for a couple weeks as a Shadow Socks host. Worked really well, <10milsec ping.

That said, its not day to day that i've had probs with Honker <~> Mainland traffic. It's the seemingly random network performance degradation that bites.


Do GitHub releases (downloadable files hosted on GitHub) work well in China in general?


Anecdotal: they work, but slowly. So for large files I use a vpn


What is CN2


Ive lived in mainland China most of last 12 years and work in software. The last paragraph is key one for most websites. You have to remove use of all G, FB and related site scripts because these will not run. There are good alternatives anyway so do yourself a favor and replace them with self-hosted or other 3rd party alternatives.

There are sites for testing what is blocked in China - you should test all 3rd party scripts you are using to make sure they run ok.


Just read the article again only to realize the late paragraph was not "Good luck! Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus." LOL

Anyway, before I had a stable proxy, I actually set up my local DNS to redirect all .google.com., .facebook.com. and their CDNs to 127.0.0.1 just so I can "unblock" some other webpages. That was not a good experience.

Those script can actually be delayed from loading so they won't block the page. You don't need to actually remove them, just load them AFTER your page is loaded, and then most things will be fine. (Except for Google Recaptcha of course)

It's a good practice to un-trust everything you don't have control, and maybe make exceptions from there. Don't by default trust everything.


we moved everything we could to a mainland provider, generally there are good alternatives and cdn's for common stuff. what keeps biting is our tracking and re-conversion scripts that our marketing team insists on.


I'm really confused.

I have a fairly international website geared towards English language learners, with Google Analytics and AdSense and links to share on Facebook, hosted on Digital Ocean here in NYC...

and, without designing for it, China has been my #1 source of traffic and revenue for many years now, simply because they're the #1 largest population of English language learners.

It seems to be working fine. I mean, maybe my share of Chinese traffic could be even bigger, but does anyone have any hard numbers showing this is a problem? Or are Chinese users aware of slow loads but just put up with it?


If your website doesn't use anything that's being actively blocked by the firewall (e.g. Google CDN), it is most likely usable in China, although it'd be quite slow.

I browse tons of foreign websites when I grew up in China. It's actually not a big issue if the website doesn't serve video.


VPN usage is popular, even more so among the educated who might want to improve their English. That’s who you’re targeting anyways right?


Those who connect to their website through VPN will not show up with an IP inside China mainland.


Don't get confused, the gov blocks websites with a clear purpose and your English learning website definitely is not on their blocking list.


Analytics and Adsense are not blocked in China.


Not that this is a recommended solution, but VPNs work from inside of China.

I lived with some Chinese students while I was exchanging and basically they said most people that want out of the Fire wall can just VPN out with no repercussions expected. Not that it’s ideal, but some commenters seem to believe that people in China have no access to the outside world which just isn’t true.

Before the internet the USSR could censor effectively, but now it’s pretty hard with encryption being as good as it is.

Of course there are people in China that don’t know that VPNs exist, but I think it’s an important nuance to mention that many people are able to have an open online experience.


Didn't China ban VPN or at least started to issue fines to people who were caught using VPNs? Unless they backtracked on that..


Yes, that parent comment must be old information.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/21...

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/21...

https://www.scmp.com/tech/policy/article/2180960/chinese-vpn...

As well, I think the Chinese government has demonstrated multiple times during "sensitive times" in recent years that they can make commercial VPN services nonfunctional at the snap of a finger. If a commercial VPN service is working, it is because of the Chinese government's mercy, not because of the commercial VPN's technological ingenuity.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I see commercial VPN providers advertising that they are the best or only VPN service to work in China. I remember one time I saw a viral Astrill ad floating around that said something to the effect: "We're happy that our VPN service is working great for our customers. But please don't post that your VPN service is working great. We work really hard to develop new technologies and get around the Chinese firewall, and if you keep bragging about it, the Chinese government could find out, it will make it harder for our services to work."

Super bad taste in my mouth. Come on, you know that the very first customers to download new clients are from the Chinese government working to figure out how to get it blocked. Hate this kind of disingenuous marketing.

edit: I will say that it is true that most commercial VPN services do seem to be used for most of the year and work well enough without consequences; the law seems to exist, but does not always get enforced. Would be interesting to see if China starts ratcheting up the fines over time.


Most, if not all of them, use fixed IP addresses which would be trivial to block regardless of what hip new crypto schemes they're running. Any customer can get the full server list too - worth it to a censor for $5.

The only real threat is something like Tor which is very aggressively and actively probed/blocked in China.


It’s really interesting how many HN users continuously engage in whataboutism and praise China every time any criticism of China comes up.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/06/red-a...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Water_Army

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17103136


I want the opposite. I want to block China and Russia and a few other countries that constantly try to hack my site.


You can block whole countries with the free CloudFlare tier. (Or give them CAPTCHA style challenges)


Can you now? A while ago it's possible to block countries in the free tier, but it was a bug and they reverted.


Wouldn't they just use a VPN to go around the block?


Look into ASN blacklisting.


Your site should be very important that everyone tries to hack it.


So long as it has any sort of registration and hence user accounts, it's good enough to top up password lists.


No, it does not have any registration or user accounts.


I traveled to China for about a month and a half a few years ago. Everything was excruciatingly slow. Except for Hacker News. Probably more about the payload size than anything else. :)

How many companies work hard to make their services readily available in China? Any notable exceptions?


Offtopic, but HN has always been a reliable check for me as to whether or not I have data service or it's just extremely slow as it always loads.


HN occasionally becomes very, very slow (30-second load times), but usually this is just if you’re logged in and requesting templated content, as the front page is cached and loads instantly on a non-logged-in device. It does make a good connection test!


I thought I am the only one


Maybe you were primarily trying to access services outside of China?

Within China things can be decently fast and low latency - from what I hear - and it is a large place with a lot of compute infrastructure.

You have to treat it as its own world. Where on the outside, all we see is the chaos and interruption of a hurricane, but there is a center that is harder to see where people go about their daily lives and have decent amenities and ux.


Extra complex because the major networks don’t peer with each other very well so you end up having to have PoPs on Telecom, Unicom, and China Mobile.


This can depend on how you access to Internet. In my experience a Hong Kong travel SIM is best as everything will be pretty efficiently routed via honkers and uncensored. My home country SIM sucked as everything was routed back to my home country which is an awful round trip if you are trying to access a mainland site or service. If you are on a mainland travel SIM local services should be on par with what you use in the west and a good VPN should be pretty fast (especially if your gateway is honker).


Last I checked it didn't load without a VPN.


My 2 cents running your app in China:

* make it as decoupled as possible from your core infra. What you spare on infra costs caused by redundancy, you will spend in maintenance time, outage mitigation, etc.

* no synchronous call going out of China mainland, otherwise you become dependent of the Great Firewall and that is not something you want

* expect lower quality of documentation and support


I host sqlalchemy.org on Linode, it has a google analytics loader on it, and I've had several complaints that the website cannot be loaded in many regions of China.


It's not GA which is not blocked in China; I think sqlalchemy.org itself somehow ended up on the GFW blocklist (beats me why that would happen).

I'm in China right now, and

    $ curl -v http://sqlalchemy.org/
    *   Trying 45.33.79.102...
    * TCP_NODELAY set
Then it just hangs. Meanwhile, my sites hosted in the same Linode datacenter (Newark, NJ) work fine.


Honestly, I wouldn’t make it available in China. I want to give them a reason to take that firewall down. I don’t want to make the prison that their government has turned their country into, a sustainable one.


If you block Chinese people from viewing your website, you're only hurting Chinese people. The government doesn't give a shit about your website or your users.

The internet is a place that can exist without borders, there's no reason for us to voluntarily erect any.


The government is ultimately at the mercy of its people. If they can't access the things they want, then that will add to their issues with the government.


they don't have a reason though it functions as protectionism for their native IT industry. They have there own set of large tech companies in googles place. They have their own version of all these apps/webservices ect.


"Sadly, it’s not so simple. If your app/website servers aren’t hosted from within China, then, for all intents and purposes, it’s blocked. I mean, it will probably technically load, but will be excruciatingly, unusably slow. And sometimes it will just not load at all for hours at a time."

Is that really correct? And are there any sort of systematic measurements of that?

I seem to remember from my travels in China that accessing my websites hosted in Denmark was ok, certainly not stellar, but better than Australia.

(The rest of the advice: Don't use FB and Google - absolutely a good idea.)


I really want the opposite, I want Google Cloud to stop billing me for Chinese users I don't have. Apparently the technology to bill me extra for Chinese bandwidth is not available for making firewall rules.


I remain completely disgusted and confused why websites hosted on AWS S3 (in BJ) by fully registered firms with valid ICPs are still banned. I have to use 10x the computing power that I need and I could load additional tools in its place. That and the lack of AWS Amplify being offered really crushes innovation here. (Shanghai based entrepreneur)


Is there a service where you can test the performance of your web site from within China?

Edit: Google knows https://geekflare.com/test-website-load-time-from-china/


Has anyone registered an AWS China account without a Chinese company?

The application process requires you to select a Chinese city/postcode.


China - opening to the world. At least that's what they say...


if there is anything remotely dynamic in your app go with option 2.

i've mainland proxied and cached the hell out of everything i can, warm the caches daily, but once the user starts interacting (eg search) then hitting our servers really bites randomly. usually not so bad for honkers server, but even that route can randomly drop off the face of the planet.


hmm, option 3 looks interesting. i would need to test it to have confidence in it (especially over problematic periods like golden week), but having your server in honkers is a big plus over the other side.


Does just having links on a page (e.g. Google Maps link or FB profile) cause slow page load?


If you're loading them asynchronously, no.


On this page[1] it says that even links (e.g. Google Play links) might cause slow page load time.

  [1] https://crossborder.digital/how-to-test-your-page-loading-speed-in-china/


I think they mean that linking to Google Play won't lead to users downloading your app, not that merely including the link will slow down page load. The same is true of embeds, e.g. YouTube videos will fail to load, but the rest of the site won't be affected by that. The article's headline focusing on speed is probably just SEO.


It sounds like the person writing this article was forced to mention a "unique feature" for each website and they basically just wrote the same thing worded differently for the first three.


Any suggestions of services that help a company obtain the ICP License?


You need a local company entity in China, I don’t think they allow it to be offered as a service. They want to know how to get in touch with you in person.


You can look into Alicloud (Alibaba Cloud) ICP, they provide English language services to help you set up a license. Still requires a locally registered entity (whether as a WFOE or a fully registered company) but they help a lot in navigating the bureaucracy.


You needs boots on the ground. So no.


I don't know out of my head (google it?) but I am pretty sure you need a mainland company.


Can I use a separate ip address for requests from china somehow?


I don't want to live in a world where the next superpower blocks websites as they suit them, suppress freedom of speech and journalism, exploit prisoners, religious segregation camps, employing social dystopian systems and is led by unimpeachable, unchallenged leader who has elected himself with a 1000-0 vote as perpetual president of the country.

It is sad to see that the rest of the world has to bend down to serve this repressive state. I've been to China and the people there are the same as us - I despise the party, not the people. The next generation that grows up there will not have the perspective of what it means to live in a free democratic country.


Please don't post political/national rants to HN. They are all the same, making them tedious, and they lead to flamewars, which produce even-less-interesting scorched earth. None of this serves intellectual curiosity, which is what this site is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I really don't understand this line of thinking.. if someone (whether it's a country, company, person) engage in evil behavior then of course we should do everything possible to dissuade others from supporting them until they change. It's possible for this site to serve intellectual curiosity without directly supporting an evil regime that put Muslims in concentration camps, engage in medical genocide (organ harvesting), and all sorts of human rights violations.


It gets simpler if you understand the purpose of this site: to gratify intellectual curiosity. If there's no new information, curiosity can't get gratified. People bashing each other with political sticks is the ultimate in no-new-information. Nationalistic arguments doubly so. And a comment like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18627641 is a black hole of this kind of thing.

Here's another way to look at it: being right, such as when criticizing something evil or dumb, isn't enough. For a comment to be a good one here, it needs to lead to good conversation. A comment's value on HN is the sum of the expected values of the paths it leads to.


Did spectramax's comment contain any new information for you? Do you think it contained new information for anyone? Judging by the responses, that's not the case. Posting what can be summed up as "The government of country X is evil." predictably leads to comparisons with the US government, all of which is just noise. It's certainly not going to dissuade anyone from supporting them, since nobody thinks of their actions as supporting them. If you actually want to change someone's behavior, you're going to need a different kind of argument and make sure to avoid flame-baiting.


It doesn't need to contain new information in order to be relevant. Their behavior may not affect you but I can guarantee that it affects other people, such as myself. I believe doing what's the morally right thing to do is more important than earning a few extra bucks.


> Their behavior may not affect you but I can guarantee that it affects other people, such as myself.

Assuming "their behavior" means that of the Chinese government, then I can assure you that I have also been affected.

> I believe doing what's the morally right thing to do is more important than earning a few extra bucks.

And nobody is going to disagree with that. Nobody who earns a few bucks thinks that they're morally in the wrong, but does it anyway. And it's not because they think that the Chinese government isn't evil either. They simply don't see a connection between what they do and what the government does. So arguing that the government is evil doesn't change anyone's mind, because they already agree with you on that.

You'd do better by focusing on the direct consequences of specific actions. E.g. if a Western company storing user data on Chinese servers led to the arrest of an innocent person, that's a much stronger argument than saying that you shouldn't use Chinese servers because the government is known to arrest innocent people. Otherwise the connection just isn't there.


I agree, but my first impression was that you were talking about the US! I live in Iran and many sites are simply blocked for all people here because of sanctions. I know there are reasons and such for these sanctions, but as you said people are the same and not all those reasons might be valid. Anyways, blocked sites here include many programming resources including Java, Go and Android, many services like Slack, and even lots of sites hosted on GCP.

Also for most of people here, "unimpeachable, unchallenged leader" resembles Trump who cancelled agreements like JCOPA or Bush who atacked our neighbour countries. I'm not arguing that any of those actions are right or wrong, but many people are badly affected by the US more than they are affected by any dictator.


>It is sad to see that the rest of the world has to bend down to serve this repressive state.

To be honest it is not our place to tell the Chinese people how to govern themselves, that is for them to figure out.

I don't see how we're 'serving' China. The US is already in an open trade war with the country, and many other regions are growing weary, but it is not up to us to interfere in the country's internal affairs.


And making your app/website work in China is gonna change any of this how?


More groups of people cope with restrictions, more momentum towards doing so; less protest against it.

it's a pretty simple idea. If you work within a framework, you're complicit by default.

You can look at it two ways : You're helping the folks in China; or you're helping the world's largest walled garden remain that way by adding content.


Not making your app or website work in China, or actively preventing it from work in China, is not gonna change any of this either.


Perhaps, developers who have taken a moral stance should put a notice on their websites/services against authoritarian governments, when accessed from those countries.


It’s better to put some vpn resources on their websites. Don’t tell people what is “bad” like authoritarian governments do; let them see what’s beyond the firewall and decide for themselves.


I agree, instead of "giving in", we as technologists should take the opportunity to provide some context as to why our website is not working as intended.

But, all bets are all if you lose significant share of your business as morality takes a backseat when it comes to profitability, market share and business goals.


Then we should own up to the fact that the world is basically a plutocracy now, at all levels of society, and drop all pretenses to the contrary.


the internet will become impossible to censor (for everyone - it’s already easy for the rich to avoid censorship) when satellite connections become cheaper / faster / more accessible


In many countries sending something over a satellite requires registration (which can be used for control subsequently), or even a license. Unless it will be a type of technology which is very hard to block, and locate, I wouldn't expect it to beat censorship.


how do you imagine they would police it?


They already do it: first of all, by controlling of import/sales of equipment, and by incentivizing citizens to tip police. Also, there are frequency control inspections which keep maps of radiotransmitting activity. It's easy to spot any new transmitter.


That only works with a small number of transmitters. If Samsung or Apple released a phone with native satellite default support, it would be impossible to police.

Censorship is doomed.


To be sold in a particular country every model needs certification which obviously may be a very complicated thing if that country's authorities are not happy with counter-censorship capabilities. Moreover, in many countries (including AFAIK Russia, and Chine) every shop selling satcom needs a separate certification. I am not sure Samsung, or Apple will ever risk to invest in something which cannot be legally exported to a large number of countries.

Finally, you should not underestimate how far a state can go to keep the status quo. Did we hear already: - What, they will check every phone? - What, they will demand our passwords? - What, they will slow down all out-of-country traffic? - What, they will block millions if websites, and look into every network packet? All of these were asked sarcastically, yet every point is happening now on a massive scale.

Actually, in late 90s there were a lot of talk about 'new era', because 'internet made censorship impossible'. Hold my beer! - said state bureaucracy everywhere.

Of course, technology can sometimes leapfrog gov't capabilities, but as a rule it's a very temporary thing. Censorship is a political, and cultural problem, and it needs political, and cultural pressure to be resolved.


Btw, I don't think it only works with a small number of transmitters. In the UK they has been taxing TV watching, and managed to have a huge fleet of specially equipped vans cruising streets, identifying where are TV sets (and it's harder task then scanning for transmissions), and checking addresses against national registry. Nowadays, I suppose methods are different due to internet broadcasting, but it seems they are still capable of taking pennies for it quite successfully. FWIW, state officials love massive budget disbursements, creation, and expanding of departments, and they can use modern technologies for large-scale operations too.


the problem isn't tech - its people.


what do you mean?


Only when it is not possible to direction-find a transceiver and place their owner in jail would satellite connections transcend censorship.


when everyone has one


Perhaps the open Internet is the aberration here. Look at my post history - while I’d like it to be otherwise I honestly believe the Internet as we know it will Balkanize/fragment - it’s a matter of time.


[flagged]


>To be honest, I'd feel more comfortable using Chinese Internet, because at least their censorship is predictable, relatively fair, and only concerned with preventing the spread of fake news.

If the Chinese internet isn't that bad, then Google isn't bad for collaboration, and then the indictment of the West doesn't work. Likewise if Google is bad for wanting to turn in people to the Chinese government, then China is bad for having people turned in to them.

Even then, there's a certain irony to saying, "they're stamping my boot into my face, but it's not so bad because they're not pretending they aren't." In the US the government had to pretend that the NSA wasn't really breaking the law, because the people still have some power and the law some meaning.

Now, if you want to say, "they're both evil," fine. Evil is a binary thing, so it naturally sidesteps the argument about who is stepping on your toes and who is sawing them off. Still, Chariman Xao sure is holding a sharp saw over there...

If you forget that there are degrees of the problem you will not be able to find your way towards improvement. It's like gradient descent in optimization.


> Now, if you want to say, "they're both evil," fine. Evil is a binary thing, so it naturally sidesteps the argument about who is stepping on your toes and who is sawing them off. Still, Chariman Xao sure is holding a sharp saw over there...

I should have used a sarcasm tag. YES, I am saying they're both evil. And I'm disgusted that American's are being just as bad as the Chinese government. And if I must choose, I'd rather have the Chinese style of honest authoritarianism than the smug and dishonest authoritarianism that is encroaching on the west.

I'm not a Chinese shill. I used to be proud of my country. I used to actually admire Google. And now they are licking the boots of the Chinese government.

There are almost certainly innocent people who are dying in prison camps because of indifference, if not outright assistance of our Silicon Valley robber barons. When American corporations assisted in other genocides during WWII, we didn't invite their executives to give freaking TED talks.

And the smugness. At least the oil executives and weapons dealers who funded both sides of bloody wars didn't preach to us about how woke they were while they were doing it.

And on top of everything else, a large part of the tech community celebrates censorship now.

So please forgive me for seeing hypocrisy. (that was sarcasm).


This comparison is just like comparing apple to orange to me. When a company blocks you, you could just voice your opinion on another platform. It's an open internet afterall. But if it's the government, the center of all power, that blocks you, you just have no other way. That is the difference of having and not having freedom of speech. If the people are really concerned about Google's and Apple's business with Saudi Government, they have the freedom to go for the third option. It may seem difficult but it's totally possible and viable. But under an authoritarian regime like China, even the freedom choice is an illusion.


Meanwhile, in the real world where we can't all be nihilists, basic human freedoms still matter and China is a grave threat to them.


To be fair, there's a grain of truth in this downvoted comment. Western elites increasingly turning in favor of censorship using blurry definitions of "hate speech", "extremist materials", "terrorist propaganda", "fake news" to persuade societies to surrender free speech. It nevertheless doesn't make Chinese censorship less ugly.


I was afraid that my comment will turn into USA vs. China. or _____ vs. China. That is all we do here on HN. Every single time anyone criticizes China, there is a preposterous tendency to "soften" the criticism by showing examples of other countries doing one or two things - pick and choose your favorite thing.

I am honestly frustrated with openly criticizing a regime, doesn't matter who, without resorting to comparisons. I almost put a disclaimer on my comment to avoid rat-hole'ing into ____ vs China comments.


Your flamebait comment upthread inaugurated this directly. Please see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19459981 and don't do this on HN.


[flagged]


This breaks the HN guideline against insinuating astroturfing without evidence. Please don't do that—it's one of the most toxic things we see here.

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturfing&sort=by...


Sorry my tone was all off. I was attempting to be sarcastic and call out the hypocrisy of westerners. My defense of China was purely ironic.


of course my websites work in china. i get hitup dailey by suppliers.


[flagged]


This breaks the HN guideline against insinuating astroturfing without evidence. Please don't do that—it's one of the most toxic things we see here.

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturfing&sort=by...


[flagged]


If you attack another user like that again, we will have to ban you, so please don't. You've mostly been a good commenter, so that shouldn't be hard.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


sounds good, fair judgement


Yeah no thanks.


Why bother? There's no internet in China anyway, whatever hacks you are going to use, the result will be completely random at best and your website working or not there is just a matter of luck.

Even the big IT companies can't make it work so why would you?


> There's no internet in China anyway

More than 40% of the world's e-commerce transactions currently take place in China. The United States’ share of the market is 24%, down from 35% in 2005.


Yes, on their local Intranet.


We've had our own "Intranet" for many services. Its error message usually looks like "Sorry, you can't load this Netflix/Hulu/Pandora/Spotify/Amazon/HBO content outside of the United States." And now there's many sites with error messages like "Sorry, but the GDPR is, like, hard, so you can't access our site outside the US."


> 40% of the world's e-commerce transactions currently take place in China

> on their local Intranet

As if AliExpress.com is non-exist outside China?

Many non-China websites are blocked in China.

Yet Chinese websites serves globally.

Think about it.


So it's an extranet then.


It's an Intranet for Chinese users, and western Webmasters.


I wonder how much non-US sites and services an average American use daily?


Much more than they think, there's a lot of big IT companies in Europe as well, they just generally work more behind the scenes.


Underrated comment.


Poster might refer to the limited availability of certain Internet services from China - but as your numbers show, it's not preventing China from being largest ecommerce market.


this is why you don't understand how important is china market is. China is getting better and bigger.


That's irrelevant with my comment, China does not have a real legal system, the CCP has full power. Whatever you are building will be blocked if moderately popular to let a local competitor take that space. All these certifications mentioned on this website have approximately the same value as the paper it's written on.


My understanding is that this kind of thing happens within China too, business is run on relationships and guanxi, not contracts. You have 0% chance as a westerner. As a Chinese citizen your chances are only good insofar as you can network and maintain relationships with people.


> There's no internet in China anyway

Uh, what?


China just has a local Intranet and when you are lucky (and increasingly luckier every year) you can access some small websites on the Internet.


No it's not an intranet. Chinese people still connect to the internet.

They've got a firewall around their whole country, not unlike any firewall a corporation might put up to prevent their employees from accessing content the company disagrees with (like viewing pornography/4chan from the network).

Sounds like you need educating on the differences.


>> China just has a local Intranet and when you are lucky (and increasingly luckier every year) you can access some small websites on the Internet.

> They've got a firewall around their whole country, not unlike any firewall a corporation might put up to prevent their employees from accessing content the company disagrees with (like viewing pornography/4chan from the network).

I kinda think you just made his point for him. The corporate networks that are walled off in that way are often called "intranets."

Also, local Chinese websites are often significantly walled off from the rest of the internet (though through local-phone-number registration requirements, not firewall rules).


"local-phone-number registration requirements" because it's required that it's should be easy to find the real person(account->phone number->id number) for all user generated content


Oh god first line of Wikipedia reads: 'An intranet is a private network accessible only to an organization's staff.'

Please tell me how www.baidu.com is only accessible within China.


Please don’t equate mass state surveillance and censorship with blocking Xtube from the office.


My point was addressing that he was incorrect about what an 'intranet' is. Read between the lines.

You're right that they do mass state surveillance though.


They have a firewall so strict that it blocks almost the totality of non-Chinese content, they don't have internet access. What they suggest on this article are hacks which might work if you are lucky, the CCP is blocking more and more every year so don't expect any of these hacks to work for long.




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