Google.com blocked in China
Today, Nov 9, 2012, http://www.google.com and http://www.google.com.hk were blocked in China. It's the first time since we started tracking online censorship in China in February last year that this has happened. Here's what we know:
- The subdomains http://www.google.com, http://mail.google.com, http://google-analytics.com, http://docs.google.com, http://drive.google.com, http://maps.google.com, http://play.google.com and perhaps many more are all currently DNS poisoned in China. Instead of the real IP addresses, any lookups from China to any of these domains result in the following IP: 22.214.171.124. That IP address is located in Korea and doesn't serve any website at all.
- This means that none of these websites, including Google Search, currently work in China, unless you have a VPN or other cirumvention tool.
- Using a DNS server outside of China doesn't help. A lookup of www.google.com to 126.96.36.199 is also distorted, by the Great Firewall.
- So far you can still access other country versions of Google such as www.google.co.uk.
You can see an overview of different Google sites here: https://en.greatfire.org/search/google-sites. You can choose any of them and test them in real time to stay updated.
Affecting more users than ever
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were all blocked before they attracted more than a small number of users in China. We've argued before that the authorities didn't dare to fully block GMail since it has too many users already. Fully blocking Google goes much further. Google Search is only the second search engine in China (after Baidu) but with an online population of more than 500 million that still leaves it with many millions of daily users. According to Alexa, it's the Top 5 most used website in China. Never before have so many people been affected by a decision to block a website. If Google stays blocked, many more people in China will become aware of the extent of censorship. How will they react? Will there be protests? Check out reactions by Weibo users on FreeWeibo.
Temporary or permanent?
The Communist Party of China is currently holding its 18th Party Congress in which new leaders of the party and the country are formally chosen. The fact that Google is blocked now is surely no coincidence. The big question is whether it will be unblocked again once the congress is over. We will closely monitor developments.
By the way.. Analytics
The fact that http://www.google-analytics.com and https://www.google-analytics.com are blocked doesn't just mean that you can't access the web interface in China. It means that visits by Chinese users won't be tracked by Google anymore. Foreign websites using Google Analytics to track their visitors will currently track 0 users coming from China, whether or not their website itself is blocked.
What to do?
Many VPNs and other circumvention tools have been working poorly or not at all in the last few days. The free iPhone app OpenDoor is still working, though it has also suffered glitches recently. Another method of accessing Google Search is to use one of their other country versions such as http://www.google.co.uk https://www.google.co.uk or http://www.google.ca https://www.google.ca. These may also be blocked of course.
You can also access Google directly using one of their IP addresses. These don't appear to be blocked (yet). Here are some:
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