The Great Firewall

We arrived in Shanghai late Monday night after a long four-airport three-flight day and all I wanted to do was crash. The Gotham Gal wanted to check her email so she logged onto the hotel WiFi and attempted to do that. As I was falling asleep I heard her call down to the front desk and complain that the Internet wasn’t working. I told her we could deal with it in the morning.

So when we got up, we grabbed our laptops and went downstairs to have breakfast and fix things.

I set up VPN software on both laptops and the Gotham Gal’s iPhone. For some reason that I don’t entirely understand, my Pixel with a TMobile SIM card seemed to be able to bypass the great firewall and access Google and Twitter without need for a VPN.

But even with firewall software on our devices, accessing western Internet services in Shanghai was flaky. Sometimes things worked, sometimes they didn’t and it wasn’t entirely clear why.

But more than the inconvenience, and it wasn’t a big one, the entire notion that China has chosen to block some of the world’s most essential services inside of China’s borders seems crazy to me.

I understand the value of protecting home grown services from competition from Google, Facebook, and Amazon. But the local versions of those services have grown so powerful over the past decade and cultural norms (like WeChatting) have taken hold so strongly that the protection seems unnecessary at this point.

Of course there are the censorship issues, which the New York Times recently shamefully heralded, but how hard is it to get a VPN if you want to check Twitter and search Google for uncensored news?

Xi Jinping heralded the dawn of a New Era for China in his talk at the 19th Party Congress this week. He asserted that China is strong and ascendent and those are both certainly true.

I would argue that China is strong enough now to fully join the Internet without any controls or constraints on it, like the dominant modern society that it wants to be and, frankly, already is.


Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    Everybody censors, us govt, Twitter, YouTube, etc. It won’t be so bad once platforms usurp the nation state, then just choose the platform that mirrors your values.

  2. Majid Malek

    The last time I was in China (~3 years ago), if your phone was recognized as roaming internationally (i.e. you are not Chinese), nothing was blocked. As a user this took some time to figure out since I was trying to use WiFi as much as possible to limit data roaming costs, and anytime the phone switched to WiFi, sites were blocked. At the time I surmised the policy might have been to make it less obvious to visiting foreigners that the Chinese government was censoring site from their population.

  3. obarthelemy

    I don’t agree with the great firewall, but I can understand the logic: if a gov wants to control content and services, the only way to do it is to lock out non-national traffic, or, at most, to only let through vetted stuff.The US are trying to say stuff on foreign servers is under their jurisdiction (aka “all your bases are belong to us”). China is saying stuff on foreign servers is forbidden. I’d say one is less over-reachy than the other.

  4. William Mougayar

    I’m not sure if it’s a question of lack of strength vs. wanting control. The Chinese government has more control over Chinese companies. They can call up their CEOs and force them to do whatever they don’t like, like they did recently with the cryptocurrency exchanges and ICO service providers.China wants its own version of everything, as I recently wrote:”…let us be reminded that China has also previously banned Facebook and Google, but those companies continued to thrive, while China promoted their own versions of these services (Weibo, RenRen, Baidu Tieba). Furthermore, China has its own Twitter (Weibo), YouTube (Youku Tudou), Yelp (Dianping), Tinder (Momo), Apple (Xiaomi), Uber (Didi Kuaidi), PayPal (Alipay), eBay (Taobao), and other home-grown social media giants like WeChat and Tencent QQ.”http://startupmanagement.or…

    1. obarthelemy

      I’m curious what the wealth&revenue split is in China compared to the US.As for banning foreign corps, given how apt those are at not paying their fair share of taxes, that’s par for the course, from the point of view of the state.

  5. Adam Parish

    Great points. Safe travels.

  6. Salt Shaker

    Don’t answer your hotel door if a man in unifom shows up and he isn’t a bellhop.

    1. fredwilson

      I posted this as I was leaving the Country

      1. jason wright

        Good exit strategy.

  7. DJL

    It’s called Communism. Neither Communism nor Socialism can survive the free flow of ideas and personal freedom.

    1. aminTorres


    2. pointsnfigures


    3. William Mougayar

      Agreed, but “tolerate” might be a better word than “survive”. Although, they have their own form of capitalism. They take what they like from it, and remove what they don’t like. Just like Enterprises like to see the blockchain as Distributed Ledger Technology and nothing more. They cut it up, take what they like, and discard the rest.

      1. DJL

        The words were chosen carefully. Once they “tolerate” – the free flow of ideas will tear the system down.Interesting idea that they have their own form of “capitalism.” It’s kinda like a religion where people choose the stuff they like (go to heaven) and discard the hard stuff (behave). It doesn’t actually function as designed. (Blockchain Religion is my next book.:>)

      2. mplsvbhvr

        After living in Shanghai for a year this is so spot on…

    4. JLM

      .Agreeing with you more than you do with yourself.If one looks at every flashpoint — Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, the list goes one — in the world at its core is a desire or an attempt to control what people know.In the case of fake news, the Chinese Communists seek to eliminate the source and punish those they judge — without the benefit of evidence — to be guilty of dispensing fake news, as defined by them. Their definition of fake news is anything — anything — which casts the regime in a bad light.In the case of the democracies, they seek to tag the originator as a less than credible source and indict the quality of their information through evidence.Control is at the core of every repressive regime.Those who are confused because the Chinese, using them as an example only because it is easy, leave a mint on the pillow of capitalism are too shallow to see through to the core of the problem. Capitalism is a tolerated source of foreign currency for even the most repressive regime.Even Communists have bills to pay and American greeenbacks are a handy currency with which to pay one’s bills.China, and others, will not survive the free flow of ideas because it is an expression of freedom and freedom is the kryptonite of control.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Laurent Boncenne

        well if you replace china and other eastern type countries by something like “america” or “europe” suddenly you’re painting the exact same scenario we’re seeing here in the western world.. albeit with different players in the field.not that i’m trying to imply russian fake news outlet are right by any means but we’re not hodling our own tech and sources of news to the same level of scrutiny as we are to the eastern ones. if we did, i feel like we would be painting a completely different story…

        1. JLM

          .I am certain I don’t get your point, but the second you suggest there are “Russian news outlets” I am lost.As bad as one might view some of our news outlets, it is a matter of emphasis and flavor. In Russia and China, there is nothing to emphasize or flavor as the state doesn’t tolerate a free press or have a First Amendment.Further to the democratization of the news is the notion that a single American person with a phone camera can tell a story as well as it’s ever been told. We are left to do our own analysis and write our own headlines.The media is no longer necessary to reach the consumer. It is not the nature of the product; it is the channels of distribution.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. Justinother D. Plorable

          Give me a break. You are implying America and Europe (while not perfect) are at the same level of GOVT CONTROL and censorship as China, and that is ludicrous.So is your whining about “Russian fake news outlets”. The entire “mwah – RUSSIA!” complaints are nothing but distraction by the Democrats-owned MSM to ignore that Hillary took $145 MILLION from Russians in “donations” to her “Foundation in exchange for her and Obama’s cabinet’s approval of the sale of America’s last uranium mine, which is, years later, now ONE HUNDRED % CONTROLLED BY RUSSIANS.Trump took and gained NOTHING from Russians. Podesta was likely not even hacked by them, (he gave way his password in a spearphishing attack) and if the Russians did get his email, it serves him right not just because Hillary ILLEGALLY used private email servers to conduct her pay for play scams (if she didn’t WHY DID SHE WIPE THEM AND DESTROY HER PHONES?) but because Podesta himself made TENS OF MILLIONS from Russians helping them set up their own Silicon Volga Valley…

      2. sigmaalgebra

        You nailed that one, drove a stake through its heart and then put spikes at all four corners.Honest injun, I posted mine before I read yours.

      3. mplsvbhvr


    5. fredwilson

      Communism doesn’t mean much today. It’s certainly not an idealogy in the way that it was. All you need to do is walk through the malls in the Jing’An neighborhood to see how rabid the capitalism is in China.Xi Jinping admitted so much when he redefined their system as modern socialism this week.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        > Communism doesn’t mean much today.True but, say, trivial because as far as I can tell from history it never did: Instead the main characteristics were a dictatorship, lots of dead, poor people, an aggressive foreign policy, and a messed up, brutal economy. I.e., Marx and much in economic theories didn’t have much to do with it.E.g., for Hitler, it was a dictatorship, an aggressive foreign policy, and lots of dead people mostly without but also within Germany.From about 1936 on, Germany ran a command economy, and apparently when the Communist countries were productive enough to feed their people they also ran command economies.So, the main difference between the Communists and Hitler was big public propaganda pictures praising Marx or lots of propaganda against Marx. So, the difference was to use Marx as a God or as a whipping boy. Otherwise I’m not seeing much difference.For Marx on economics, as far as I can tell, he was silly. He was harmless unless someone actually tried to use that stuff in a real economy.There are some people — and I don’t know one way or the other — who believe that, outside of economics, Marx had some good insights into some aspects of society. Maybe he did.

      2. DJL

        I envy your first-hand experience. I’m sure it is amazing over there.

      3. mplsvbhvr

        This is the truth of the matter, but (at least while I was living there years ago) it was understood that you could never speak ill of Mao and his ilk. William has it right in a comment above here that it’s basically pick and choose in terms of history, ideologies, and even current events. When the government restricts the flow of information it is incredibly easy to convince for one to convince themselves of falsehoods which the government represents as fact. I ran into this everywhere from business meetings (how successful a company was, how many clients they had, all fungible numbers) down to my ethnicity (it was always assumed I was wealthy due to my heritage, and nothing I said could convince many people i ran into otherwise).At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping people in check. Money flowing helps, information flowing doesn’t.That being said – I had a great time living in Shanghai. It’s an incredible city. I just couldn’t last long term. The way business is done over handshakes and connections just got to be too much for me at the end of the day.

      4. Thomas Luk

        Just returned from SHA as well. The malls are really only a small fraction of China…a very small fraction for a very small part of the population.

      5. JLM

        .Communism/socialism are forms of governing which should be compared to democracy or, in the case of the USA, a representative republic.These systems of governing differ in the manner in which the people control them. In the USA, the people determine the leaders. In a communist system, the communist party makes that determination.Capitalism, an economic system, should be compared to state controlled economies, an organic element of communism/socialism.Much like communism/socialism v democracy/representative republics, the issue is who controls the ownership of property, the means of production, the investment in property/production, the accumulation of wealth, and the decisionmaking.In this regard, the Chinese Communist Party is as strong, stronger actually, than ever before. They have rebranded the Red Chinese moniker to jolly fellows in western suits with pretty wives, but they are the same folks who killed thousands of their people (primarily students) in Tiananmen in 1989.The Chinese are superior branders calling the Tiananmen Square Massacre the Tiananmen Square “Incident.” Folks forget that the first thing the Reds did was to expel all the foreign journalists.In much the same way, Xi, in a 3 1/2 hour speech at the Communist Party Congress three days ago, reiterated the control of the economy by the Communist Party — he rejected “market reforms” and embraced another round of an engineered economy.Point of order — the power of the economy, the wisdom of the crowd are bedrock tenets of capitalism.One needs to remember that the most important problem a Chinese leader faces is feeding his people — why dumping steel is not a problem for them as they need the jobs.He also reiterated the Chinese manic desire to regain control of Taiwan. Keep your eye on this, folks. The Chinese have more landing craft facing Taiwan than we used at D Day. They have no organic naval lift to transport those landing craft which means they are focused exclusively on Taiwan.With the advent of Chinese naval missiles, the gap between Taiwan and China — where the US Navy historically intended to put a couple of aircraft carrier battle groups once upon a time — is extraordinarily vulnerable. Current US Navy doctrine is to set up shop on the far side of Taiwan and project airpower over the island to China. Huge difference.Stand back for a second and contemplate the idea of the sole power point — the Chinese Communist Party — holding a confab every five years to allow the big dog to tell the country how the CCP has decided the cow will eat the cabbage for the next five years and having the unilateral and absolute power to make it happen. Wow! That is Communism. That is Communism even if Xi tries to rebrand it as Bernie’s socialism on steroids.China had a capitalistic base long before Mao showed up. In Shanghai is the old Shanghai Stock Exchange. It was started in 1920 and put out of business by Mao in 1949 (when China also defaulted on all public debt, stock certificates and bonds which I collect) and then reopened in 1990.I mention this because China’s Communists are not “allowing” capitalism to flourish, it was there before they arrived.If you want to learn some interesting history read about the Astor House Hotel (original home of the Shanghai Stock Exchange) and the Mukden Incident in 1932 — the prelude to the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 (?).Communist countries — Russia, China, Cuba — require foreign currency. They have always allowed the interface between goods produced in the country and foreign markets. Always. If Russia had no access to foreign oil markets, it would cease to exist. When Russia divested itself of state owned businesses, it was an excuse for the powerful to loot the treasury, nothing more.The CCP is as strong and virulent as it has ever been — stronger. They are on the march as evidenced by their development of a dozen contentious island redoubts in the S China Sea and their One Way, One Road international development initiative.Capitalism in China has no bearing on its governance. The only game in town is the Communist Party and the Chinese will kill anyone who attempts to organize any meaningful resistance. Within the next decade, they will take Taiwan by force.Keeping it real.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. sigmaalgebra

          DAMN good. Catch up on World History 101 totally missing from the history I got in books, high school, and college.I’d wondered what Xi said in his “long telegram”, uh, long speech, and have been a little surprised that there has been so little attention — discussion, translation transcript, summary — in the US media. Ah, guess that is just another failing of the MSM.For Taiwan, I’ve been guessing that CCP actually for now and likely a long time liked the status quo and didn’t want to change it. Why?(1) Taiwan has Asus, etc. which are good economic bridges, connections, channels, etc. to the West. IIRC, maybe Taiwan has one of the better semi-conductor foundries, maybe the one trying to be on the way to 3 nm for $10 B. The CCP could easily enough understand that they would have a tough time doing as well from their side of the little patch of water between them and Taiwan. So, if Beijing takes over Taiwan by force, they could kill the flock of geese there laying golden eggs. And having Asus, etc. there across the water keeps down threats of corruption of the CCP orthodoxy in China itself.(2) Taking over Taiwan by force could be bloody. It would be like that python or whatever that swallowed whole a porcupine and died from it. The CCP was paranoid over that one teenager in front of that tank: Well, Taiwan has millions of people with such an attitude.(3) Taking over Taiwan by force would piss off a lot of China’s trading partners and sources of $.

          1. JLM

            .The smartest people in the world thought China would never re-possess Hong Kong. They engaged in two decades of negotiations to finally repossess it like a leased BMW.Xi went to HK and told the people they had to end their “freedom rallies” and that they had to embrace their limited role within a larger Chinese framework or suffer the consequences.The CCP crushed the students — killed thousands with tanks — in Tiananmen Square in 1989. They banished the foreign press, controlled the message, and, today, nobody even remembers what happened.The CCP tolerates gambling/whoring/drugs in Macau, capitalism in HK, resistance in Taiwan, misbehavior in North Korea, and challenges to their island redoubts in the S China Sea, but they can pull the plug any time they want.When Xi spoke for 3 1/2 hours to the party, there was no alternative view or challenge to the plan. This is what a planned economy looks like. One guy. One party. One plan. Death to the resistance.JLMwwwthemusingsofthebigredcar…

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Some good on the flip side: With the non-stop, totally over the top, as nasty as they can cook up MSM trashing of Trump, no one can say that Trump hasn’t been “vetted”. Since the worst all that 2+ year trashing came up with that is at all credible was something about Trump having two scoops of ice cream, gotta say that Trump passed the vetting with A+, high honors, and flying colors! That is, the more the anti-Trump people trash Trump and come up with zip, zilch, and zero, the more severely vetted and, thus, the better Trump looks!In particular, of course the anti-Trump news is outrageous “fake” news: They hate Trump and are doing their best to attack Trump, but he is so clean that the made-up, cooked-up, stirred-up, faked-up nonsense is the most credible attacks they can find to make!For more, each time Trump says something unpolished or non-PC and the MSM jump on it for days, Trump shows again that the worst the MSM has on him is just trivia, even less serious than the two scoops of ice cream.Trump’s especially good accomplishments are starting to accumulate: (1) Gorsuch and other judicial appointments. (2) Stopping open borders immigration. (3) Getting violent criminal illegals out of the US. (4) Having solid pros like Kelly, Mattis, and Tillerson right at the top. (5) Just as predicted in the campaign and without much in reports since then, the sudden fall of ISIS as a “state”. (6) The apparent progress on The Wall. (7) The rise in business confidence, the fall in unemployment claims, the rise in the stock market, the rise in the GDP growth rate. (8) The prudent, slow build up response to Dumb Dung Dong Song Pong Ill Uno Rocket Boy, e.g., with US ABM tests, US aircraft carrier battle groups in the western Pacific, joint US-Japan and US-South Korea military exercises, China agreeing that NK should have no nukes, etc., (9) Trump’s leadership on respect for the flag and national anthem, etc.Another year, maybe just another six or three months, of these accumulating accomplishments will have the MSM Trump attackers have to STFU for lack of an audience.

          3. Justinother D. Plorable

            Over Hong Kong the CP were negotiating with the Brits who have effectively handed they own empire over to their “subjects”.

      6. Justinother D. Plorable

        WADR, was that before or after Xi had himself and his “thoughts” enshrined /proclaimed himself President for Life?”China has elevated the stature of President Xi Jinping and cemented his grip on power by including his name and political ideology in the Communist Party constitution.At the end of a pivotal twice-a-decade meeting, party delegates voted unanimously Tuesday to make “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” a guiding principle for the party…….”Xi Jinping now has an institutional guarantee of support. He can be emperor for life — staying in power as long as his health allows,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for China Studies…

    6. scottythebody

      I kind of agree with you, but I don’t know how you define those terms. Communism doesn’t mean much and almost certainly is contrary to the way humans like to organize themselves these days. But I live in a place with free press, socialism and what seems to be plenty of personal freedom (in Europe). Granted, we have gun control, so if the definition of freedom is weaponry, then we have the opposite freedom, which is freedom from rampant gun violence.I guess it’s all about degrees and definition. Would you define most European nations as “socialist?” And it’s interesting here because across the spectrum, from right to left, all of the parties that are in power don’t even for a minute talk about losing “socialism”. Rather, it’s more about policies that ensure socialism can perpetuate.But I would agree that “totalitarianism” can’t stand the free flow of ideas.

    7. Vendita Auto

      Pressed the like in error. As an observer socialism does survive / develop in many nation states IMO it is clear from Cixi (1861 – 81) on to the Japan Russian carve up that without the communist movement there would be no China of today other than satraps that would caused greater problems than we face in the gulf today.

      1. Justinother D. Plorable

        Because everyone knows what without the Chinese communists murdering 50 million of their own people we can 100% predict exactly how their nation would have turned out.Defenders of communism have such a desperate stench about them.

        1. Vendita Auto

          Thank you for the heads up I promise more deodorant / Talcum

    8. jason wright

      So why was Fred Hampton murdered in a conspiracy between the FBI and the CPD?

      1. DJL

        I’m not sure what that has to do with my comment. The FBI is covering things up now. And I believe the Liberal left (especially the media) is suppressing many ideas in America. They are on a march to socialism. So maybe that is your point.

        1. jason wright

          who is “They”?

    9. SubstrateUndertow

      Largely agree but lets no get too dogmatic about that self congratulatory labeling conclusion.Communism failed relatively quickly under the weight of its own overly centralized illegitimacy.Capitalism is failing relatively slowly under the weight of its own illegitimate accumulation of excessively centralized wealth/power.Socialism whether quickly or slowly seems to fail repeatably because society lacked the technological where-with-all to maintain distributively collaborative(organic) political control over an effectively integrated centralized execution mechanism. This may or may not be be solvable ?One could make the case that a more distributive-direct-democracy is the inevitable long term political outcome under network-effect conditions. What political label should be signed to that possible political/economic evolutionary outcome?Organic/advanced-capitalism or network-effect-socialism. A rose by any other name and all.We have not yet reached the end of economic evolutionary history !

      1. DJL

        I get your points. However, I disagree with the assessment of Capitalism. I believe our system is failing because because of increased Socialist ideas and influence (ie. ever larger and growing central government.)There may be yet another “system” our there that evolves, as you say. But I believe that Capitalism is by design the best way to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people. Is is perfect? Hell no! Are there winners and losers, of course. But Capitalism is the only system we have that allows “losers” to work their way into “winners”.

  8. Yonah Barkhordari

    @fredwilson Your Pixel probably defaults to google DNS when connecting to wifi whereas other devices default to unique DNS based on ISP. In my experience, Google’s DNS is able to connect through the firewall (and is generally faster). Changing the DNS in your wifi settings is pretty simple; Google’s DNS addresses are and

    1. scottythebody

      This could be a big part of it. Google’s DNS could also be really smart and provide very interesting results to queries based on your location. They do some voodoo with DNS as far as I can tell. Amazing how, no matter where you are in the world, is only a few ms away 🙂

  9. Mike Geer (MG)

    Hear hear! Full engagement and freedom (edit:freedom of expression/communication) for the Chinese people will very clearly be more beneficial for China and the Chinese government than these lingering restrictions.

    1. Pete Griffiths

      You may be right.But could you be wrong?Russia and Iraq for example were ‘freed.’ How do you feel they worked out?

      1. JLM

        .If one were to count noses in the cemeteries of the Middle East over the last 30 years, the idea of “freedom” has been incredibly expensive with no real proof that it worked.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Never a truer word.

        2. sigmaalgebra

          > cemeteriesIIRC Schwarzkopf once was asked”There were some hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers in the desert near Saudi Arabia. Where are they now?”and the answer was”They are still there”.Saddam was a brutal, sadistic, murdering tyrant who tortured and killed a lot of his people. Then we had from W Gulf War II that got rid of Saddam, had the insurgency, a nice word for basically a three way civil war, sorry, four way when count the US, and, IMHO, killed many, many more people, say, per day than Saddam.When take over a country, are supposed to occupy it, police it, and govern it, and W didn’t do all that. The general that estimated it would take 500,000 US soldiers to do that got fired. Wolfowitz said that it shouldn’t take more US soldiers to run the place than to win the battle — dumb, dumb Wolfie.The blood letting since Saddam was deposed has continued to the present now that finally ISIS is no longer a state. But, sure, the Shiites want to fight with the Kurds and likely also the Sunnis. So, it will be a three way civil war again. And Syria, Turkey, and Iran don’t want the Kurds to have a state.So, if listen to W’s latest stuff, can see more clearly why he did what he did in Iraq:(1) He’s a superficial thinker, fails to see the obvious, e.g., that it took a Saddam to keep Iraq quiet (when it was quiet). Saddam told us that if he was gone, we’d have a heck of a time keeping the place together. That idea was too difficult for W.(2) W is an elitist, wants to hand down recipes for the world.(3) When W doesn’t want to think, which is nearly always, he falls back on some wack-o, misused religion unless also he is back on the sauce.(4) He has talked himself into a whole stream of BS stuff about “the world order”, the power of “democracy”, how “saving the world out there” is the only way to have US national security, how importing cheap products and new versions of slave labor (that have no chance of assimilating) that put US citizens out of work are good things because they do good things for “the world” and, thus, are good for the US.What was, with W, the NPV of our reaction to 9/11? $7 T? Plus, what, 10,000 dead US soldiers?The reports were that Laura helped him get off the sauce. Both his actions and his speeches indicate that he never did get off the sauce.DAMN W was destructive.

      2. Mike Geer (MG)

        Sorry, I think my comment wasn’t worded clearly. I meant to convey that freedom of expression and access to information would be beneficial to all parties. It was not a reference to democratic freedoms or other changes of the system.However, as you bring up the topic, Russia was demolished overnight, which was seen as a success in the west, but considered to be a major mistake by many who wanted the changes, but not done so badly.As for regime change events in Iraq and other places, that obviously again is not a good way to bring about change. It brings about chaos and a vacuum with very little control on what fills that vacuum. So empowering local people to see all the information and discuss it openly AND THEN decide what they want to do themselves, should bring about better results than isolating them and limiting information.I do not have the answers, but I do believe strongly with the above tenets.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          > So empowering local people to see all the information and discuss it openly AND THEN decide what they want to do themselves, should bring about better results than isolating them and limiting information.Do that in Iraq and the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds will have a three way civil war. The more they talk about it, the more that’s what they will want. And they will want Sharia law and Islam running everything.You are considering culture. Having an effective, stable, humane, peaceful, productive culture is super tough. Europe failed to get that until NATO after WWII. The English speaking countries have had that for a long time. And that’s about the end of the list.It’s just as in one of the Star War movies: The people do sit around and consider all the information, but then they DON’T agree on anything but fighting.Too much freedom in China anytime soon could result in a civil war with the blood of some hundreds of millions of Chinese flowing out to the western Pacific Ocean.

        2. Pete Griffiths

          Thanks for the clarification.I would suspect that the Chinese leadership are concerned that too much such freedom of ideas too quickly could rise in an explosion of expectations and could let the genie out of the bottle with regard to social control. All societies have segments of society with legitimate grievances, the question is how to handle them. The sheer scale of potential conflict in China is terrifying. To be afraid of such dissent getting out of hand is understandable. What is the correct pace to loosen controls? I have no idea and I very much doubt anyone can be clear about this.The political scientist Francis Fukuyama has written very interestingly about the Chinese system. Given his belief in the thesis that liberal democracy is the natural end point of political development (see ‘The End of History’) is is not surprising that he finds the existence of the Chinese system to require explanation. How has it been successful for so long? Will it implode in an orgy of popular demand for self actualization. He believes that the system must evolve into liberal democracy. Perhaps he is right. But the transition is risky.The Chinese leadershiip is probably best not admonished or looked down on for their excesses of control so much as pitied for the scale of problems they are dealing with and the legitimate fears they have as they try to steer this fast moving train without coming off the tracks.

  10. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:How worried, cautious or preventive measures are being executed knowing the vulnerability of WiFi via Krack?Especially traveling abroad.

  11. onowahoo

    When I was recently there I couldn’t believe the firewall. I had know about it but as an American I found it crazy to see in person. A lot of Muslim countries have similar firewalls.

  12. William Mougayar

    Great Wall, Stonewall, Firewall… we get the picture. A country with Multiwalls

    1. Michael Elling

      I often think back to the factoid you highlighted about the growth in walls here on AVC from Ai Weiwei’s kickstarter a few months ago. I just googled the actual source: Elisabeth Vallet written up in the LA Times:

  13. gbrandonthomas

    In China, internet activity is viewed as a national security issue. Actions are less about protecting Chinese businesses and more about ensuring control over the activity to ensure dissent, unsanctioned organizing, and other threats are nullified. The US has similar motivations, which will likely become more prominent given what Russia et al has exploited recently.Beyond our own recent issues, internet activity has proven itself to directly affect governments, Most examples have been for “good” – compromising authoritarian regimes, enabling people to freely organize, etc. However, it is now becoming apparent that activity can be manipulated, suggesting activity can be affected for “bad” as well. China is right: It is a national security issue.

    1. LE

      In China, internet activity is viewed as a national security issue. Actions are less about protecting Chinese businesses and more about ensuring control over the activity to ensure dissent, unsanctioned organizing, and other threats are nullified.Exactly. I don’t understand why others don’t see this as well.And the fact that you can get by it with a little creativity and a VPN is not relevant. That assumes widespread law breaking which in an country like China is not likely to happen. It the mean time the friction provides ample deterrent.You know there are laws in the US for various things but people still break the law but in smaller numbers than if the law and friction were not there.

    2. JLM

      .The Chinese method of “nullifying” dissent is amputation. The most credible Chinese dissidents are not living in China. It is unhealthy for one’s longevity to dissent from the Chinese leadership on home soil.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      Now that we are all living inside a virally accelerating network-effect we have all become interdependent participants in a Borg-like living system whether we like it or not!Inertia-dampening is a mandatory organic attribute of all sustainable living-systems.Creatively integrating this principle into all aspects of our emerging network-effect political economy is quickly becoming a generically important meme.

  14. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:With the availability of information and education it pains us to continue to view misinformation being pedaled in this forum.The misuse and misapplication of the terms of Communism and Socialism is outdated and should be corrected in a space of educated contributors. (In our view at least the majority who contribute, even the intentional misdirection and outright falsehood pedaling by the few)China is not a Communist nation. Those of us who have read Marx, Lenin, Mao and the Communist Manifesto know that those ideas would never invest in free market or any capitalistic system opposed to their mission and ideas.China uses the title to control 1.3 Billion people. PeriodThere are more wealthy Chinese living in mainland China who depend upon the free market system and not a communist system.If 350 million Chinese (The equivalent of the population in the USA) would revolt and refused to be governed under China’s system it would be nothing the Chinese Military or any other Nation could do.It is a reason the terms are pedaled and misapplied. To use the terms on people that oppose brainwashing or a point of view opposed to social change, inclusion, anti military state, human services to populous and using logic.Now watch the defense of the indefensible. Logic!Captain Obvious

    1. pointsnfigures

      It’s a communist nation. The wealthy often are chosen rather than attaining the wealth by virtue of free market competition.

      1. creative group

        pointsnfigures:There are those who would apply the same view to those born on third base (always in denial) and VC picking winners and losers daily.But we digress. We just have a different view on what we read (assuming you had similar history 204 in secondary)China’s Third Plenum meeting Tuesday, of majorly reforming its economy only reaffirms our view.More Authoritative if anything.———–Short view of why people in general call China a communist country that allows Capitalism.The Communist label viewpoint:Chinese corporations are entities of the state, and profits for corporations become profits for the state. The majority of public-private business are co-mingled with the state. Any foreign/non Chinese business requires a Chinese counterpart partner to do business in China.Which we view as only technically and theoretically (visit definition)The end game is China needs to control 1.3 Billion people by any means necessary.

        1. Michael Elling

          It’s hard to change a rigidly hierarchical culture 5000+ years in the making and one that’s extremely prone to corruption and graft:

          1. creative group

            Michael Elling:If you didn’t use the time frame of 5000+ years we would have thought based upon SEC Civil and United States Attorneys nationwide criminal convictions participants of the American financial system. (Prone to curruption and graft titled in America as fraud, Ponzi schemes, stealing and money laundering)Let’s list the instances. How amnesia distorts the memory.1. Michael Milken (Very much reformed, wealth does that) Drexel Burnham Lambert. Ivan Boesky implicated Milken on several illegal transactions – including insider trading, stock manipulation, fraud and buying stocks for the benefit of another person.2. Barry Minkow, While in high school, Minkow founded ZZZZ Best, which was a successful carpet-cleaning and restoration company. At least on the surface, it was. In the beginning, to meet the basic expenses of ZZZZ Best, Minkow used check kiting, stealing, staging break-ins at his offices, and running up fraudulent credit card charges to find capital.3. Jordan Belfort started his career as a stockbroker at L.F. Rothschild. He went on to found the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. At Stratton, Belfort really began his dubious career in the securities industry. The Wolf of Wallstreet.4. Bernie Maddoff (Name defines it all)If you haven’t got the picture you are not looking at the painting. Greed is greed. Curruption is curruption. Doesn’t require a different culture or country.

          2. Michael Elling

            What motivates the individuals in a culture more? Shame vs guilt? The level of corruption in a culture is closely tied to these base motivations. Corruption and greed can be found everywhere. And the US is certainly not immune in its own way if you hear my cynicism about the repressive legal system above. I just thought the article might stoke the fires. Ultimately a system like the one detailed does not advance and is not sustainable.

    2. Michael Elling

      Unfortunately CO you are at the wrong debate; one that began 2400 years ago with Greek Philosophers.The difference between democracy, communism, oligarchy (which aptly describe Russia and China, and partially the US with its system of repressive laws based on monetary value/status), timocracy and tyranny are really just shades of gray.The real debate should be how we evolve our thinking around socio-economic and political systems to realize that everything about us, around us and in the cosmos is governed by network effects and internetworked ecosystems. As the debate over crypto currencies reveal there is extreme naivety around sustainable and generative networked ecosystems that balance humanity against all the other forces of nature (technology, physical matter and other living organisms).The debate above is merely about what we do with the natural and immutable concentration and capture of value/power at the core of every network. Not how that value is balanced with the costs at the edge and vis a vis other networks. It’s rather complex stuff. As a “democracy” we started down that path at the dawn of modern digital information networks 100 years ago, but took the wrong path in the road because of our belief in capitalism and industry.The city state of the Greek philosphers is no different than the digital networked ecosystems of today other than scale; save for one difference. We are about to lose any hope of control over these systems with the advent of AI modeled on our current way of thinking; aka winner takes all. Before it is too late we need to bake in algorithms modeled on equilibrism balancing value captured at the core with costs at the edge.

      1. creative group

        Michael Elling:You just entered the room with a nuclear device and the 2400 year counter argument is using caveman slingshots. Applause!

    3. JLM

      .”If 350 million Chinese (The equivalent of the population in the USA) would revolt and refused to be governed under China’s system it would be nothing the Chinese Military or any other Nation could do.”Of course there is. The Chinese would kill the leaders. One of the lessons of Tiananmen Square was the single young man standing in front of the tanks.It was inspirational. However, it also exposed a great vulnerability — there was only one such young man who stepped forward. Eliminate that one young man, and the rebellion fizzled. Tanks trump unarmed individuals. Always have.”The power of the wolf is the pack; and the power of the pack is the wolf.”Once the leader of the pack is eliminated, the pack ceases to exist. That is why the American Revolution was so powerful — the men who signed the Declaration of Independence defied the King, the most powerful army in the world, the most powerful navy afloat.Once they signed, they served their own death sentence, but they threw in with the pack. The pack won though each of them lost.”The power of the wolf is the pack; and the power of the pack is the wolf.” Rudyard, y’all.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. scottythebody

        350 million != 1. Actually would equal one hell of a pack.

    4. Pete Griffiths

      “The misuse and misapplication of the terms of Communism and Socialism is outdated and should be corrected in a space of educated contributors.”This is a totally accurate point. These terms are bandied around with woefully little understanding of their history and true meaning.

      1. JLM

        .Like Bernie said, “Wow, I am a socialist.”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Pete Griffiths


      2. scottythebody

        Agreed. It becomes religious and dogma based as opposed to talking about the real details.

  15. pointsnfigures

    Can’t get or access the WSJ in Singapore. Doubtful if you can get the US edition in China. The founding values of America are sticky. JS Mill and Adam Smith were onto something. China knows they can’t beat it. So, those values must be buried or shielded.

  16. Hiyito Patada

    We already have self-selected censorship here in the States, e.g. mutes, blocks, unfollow, parental controls on devices, etc. We also have laws against making threats, blackmail, libel, child pornographers, etc. No media nanny required.Overblown witch hunt for Russian trolls is a poor excuse for advocating a firewall.Shame on the NYT for reprinting what is essentially CCP propaganda.

  17. Dorian Benkoil

    Fred, I agree. China is ascendant, and the platforms emanating from there are so powerful that they could challenge Facebook and others, well beyond the Chinese-speaking world. I also agree that censorship and blocking is not the right strategy — better to let ideas flourish. In that vein, I heard something recently that gave me pause. Some are apparently looking at emulating the Great Chinese Firewall in order to thwart foreign meddling in U.S. elections. This column points out the dangers to our freedom of speech in doing so (and links to an Atlantic article that points out how the firewall is hurting China’s economy):

    1. JLM

      .China punches well above its perceived weight, but it is an illusion.The population of China is 1,379,000,000 (World Bank 2016).The population of India is 1,324,000,000.The population of the US is 323,000,000.The population of Russia is 144,300,000.We make a classic American mistake, we see our rivals and enemies as being 10′ tall. We have always made this mistake. When we fought the Germans in WWII, we gave them credit for being super soldiers when our own doctrine of combined arms (infantry, artillery, armor, combat engineers, air power, naval power) was superior.In much the same way, we give the Chinese credit for being more advanced as a nation than they are.If we were smart, we would be cozying up to India and assisting their military and tech sectors as a source of a balancing act v China. They are a democracy and more likely to be a worthy partner long term.In fact, it would drive the Chinese nuts if we had a military alliance with the Indians like we have with S Korea.International rivalries are not entire population v entire population. They are our top 5% v their top 5%.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  18. LE

    to block some of the world’s most essential services inside of China’s borders seems crazy to me.Essential in what sense and to whom? American or European tourists? Or to the chinese? And most importantly how can something that we didn’t even have 10 years ago that your fellow country people can’t access be essential?Google – Essential? Actually no. Really. Facebook – Essential? Definitely no. Entertainment. Amazon – Essential? Got along fine w/o Amazon actually. Niceto have but it’s not water or electricity or food or even close.Netflix – Essential? Nope (and I use it every day but could live w/o it).Real time news? Essential? Not at all. It’s mainly infotainment anyway.Using apps like flight aware to know about planes locations and what not? Nice to have but in no way essential or even close.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Good points. Only one thing I would sort of disagree with is about Google. While not essential in the strict sense of the word, it’s become almost a necessity – some search engine, I mean. Necessity not in a literal sense – of course one can use other paid online search services (heard of them, such as Dialog, etc., never used), but they may be infeasible for heavy use due to the cost, or slowness, or other reason. Not that Google is perfect, of course, even if it is free. I mean it is “essential” more in the sense that you sometimes say about competition – if you don’t use Google for searches for work, but your competitors do, you will likely be slower or at a disadvantage. All statements heavily qualified with “– it depends”, though – which is also a good escape hatch if challenged about their validity 🙂

      1. LE

        Sure but that is why I said ‘that your fellow country people can’t access be essential?’In other words if nobody has google then there is no disadvantage.And as far as competing on the world stage with others the government could easily do a carve out for that. The fact is the vast majority of people don’t compete or interact with people in other countries. Right? They are dealing entirely locally.if you don’t use Google for searches for work, but your competitors do, you will likely be slower or at a disadvantage.Exactly so I am saying that if everyone is in the same boat the impact is nominal. Now juxtapose that with the fact that if you don’t control information and the masses in that form of government you have a massive problem on your hands.Ultimately what they would like to do is control the flow of information to keep people in line. As such they can authorize another search engine and take care of that ‘problem’ to the extent they want to do that.Not saying this will ultimately work, but it is a strategy none the less.

        1. Richard Carlow

          “In other words if nobody has google then there is no disadvantage”Well, I suppose you are correct if you are only talking about relative competition. There is a very big disadvantage to a society in not having the kind of information that google helps bring to our fingertips. The issue here is one of control.

      2. creative group

        Vasudev Ram:”Not that Google is perfect, of course, even if it is free.” – Vasudev RamGoogle definitely isn’t free. They are monetizing off your information without true compensation. The main reason this form of social media (USV blog) is the rare source that we engage. (Periscope the second)

        1. Vasudev Ram

          >Google definitely isn’t free. They are monetizing off your information without true compensation.I’m aware of that. “If you are not the user, you are the product” has been a meme for a while now :)But a blog or site being monetized, does not mean that it cannot provide value. Depends on how, and if you are okay with it. Otherwise, as @LE said, we (often) have the option not to use it.As always, the old saying holds true: “Caveat emptor.”Also see “Caveat lector” at the same link below.

          1. creative group

            Vasudev Ram:Caveat Emptor is one of our best advice.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      > Google – Essential?For software development, Google really is essential.Of course, maybe more software development isn’t essential!Last week the high beam of the left front headlight of my main car was out. Net, for auto parts, compared with my local auto parts store and its astoundingly smart clerks, Amazon totally sucks.

  19. Tom Labus

    I sure if your were there 10 days you would discover how lots of people getting around this form of censorship. The flow of information finds a way

  20. jason wright

    i’m surprised your hardware wasn’t confiscated upon arrival at the airport. they must be going a bit soft in the head. a capitalist running around Shanghai with a Firewall penetrating Pixel is a serious threat to social order and state security. subversive.

  21. Steven Kane

    100% agree. sadly Xi Jinping and his regime utterly disagree. all trends are moving in the opposite direction…

  22. Pete Griffiths

    Xi Jinping is an interesting leader.From a Western perspective it may appear that his primary concern is continued high rates of growth to drag another few hundred million people from abject poverty. And this indeed is a major concern. But the major, and the most distinctive, characteristic of his leadership is his push to reestablish the hegemony of the party. He wants the party to be the unquestioned vanguard for the people. And this hegemony is to be achieved not only through economic prosperity, but by virtue of its discipline and clear policy designed to benefit the people at large. And these efforts do indeed result in a raft of controls and oppression. The question is why he feels the need to effect such policies.I suggest that his major concern is chaos. He is terrified that China spin out of control and the country suffers a meltdown. It is easy to argue that responding to this fear by imposing control is the wrong course of action, that what is needed is in fact greater freedom, but those who advocate this position would perhaps be well advised to study the history of Russia. Radical deregulation and embracing ‘western values and freedoms’ did not usher in liberal democracy but the emergence of the oligarchs and a reversion to truly authoritarian leadership. How about our attempts to spread freedom and liberal democracy into the Middle East?The core problem here is that generalizations about the merits of the kind of freedoms we enjoy do not necessarily map easily over to very different cultures. Liberal democracy isn’t the result of ‘the free flow of information.’ It is the product of hundreds of years of evolution of organs of civil society. Western Europe took centuries to evolve such a civil society which was the prerequisite of liberal democracy. The United States inherited the European experience. Russia, the Middle East and China have NO such history and NO intellectual heritage reflecting such a history. With no such substrate radical liberalization is risky. Xi Jinping may be over oppressive but he isn’t crazy.Do we really want China to melt down? I don’t think so.

    1. JLM

      .The Chinese conducted a focus group and decided that Xi Jinping looked the best in a Western suit. Also, he had the best looking wife.The guys running China continue to be the 90-somethings at the Politboro.I heard Jon Huntsman — Mandarin speaking former Obama Amb to China — give a brilliant run down of who was in charge in China and he said, “It is still the Long March crowd, those in the shadow of Mao, then those who made the decision to throw in in N Korea in 1950, and it would take a long time to get to where the leaders of China would be of the same age as western leaders.”One can look at the takeover of Hong Kong and Xi’s recent scolding tour there. He told them, “We need the hard currency, but we will only tolerate so much economic freedom before we come down here and wipe you out.”We have to remember that it only since 1973 that Americans have been welcome in China. We still have a lot to learn.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. sigmaalgebra

      > Western Europe took centuries to evolve such a civil society which was the prerequisite of liberal democracy.The rivers of Europe commonly ran red with blood, and as recently as 1945. There were wars over land, between kings and peasants, over religion, economic advantage, etc. It took a long time for Europe to learn the lessons, and the lessons were usually bloody. Supposedly the peace brought by NATO has been the longest since the Romans.

      1. Pete Griffiths


  23. RichardF

    China will join the internet on it’s terms. From the comments by some of AVC’s more prominent and vocal members there appears to be a surprisingly real lack of understanding of the Eastern mindset and strategy. Hubris much.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Not really hubris but just ignorance — start at west Africa and move east across Africa, Arabia, India, and Asia, and nearly all Americans just won’t have the contact to understand what they see.Here’s some of why: Supposedly by age 18, an American with a middle class education knows about 80,000 English words. So, sit down for the arithmetic:80,000 / ( 18 * 365 ) = 12.2Wow! So, that’s a lot to learn. Well, in family, socialization, culture, norms, values, etc., there’s still more to learn. Net, no way will East meet West and understand.For Americans, understanding is much easier from Pyrenees east to the Urals and from the boot of Italy north to the Arctic. From the Black Sea north to the Arctic is doable but in places more challenging.For essentially all of the non-English parts of the rest of the world, for Americans, f’get about it — no way will many Americans understand.

  24. CThomps

    I’m posting about what I have been thinking about with the AVC burn rate topic. Sorry to hijack this thread to post here, but the other one was closed.I was thinking about a very simple (just 2 factor scoring – I realize there could be a more comprehensive multivariate weighted analysis etc) but this grid I think sums up some guidance from the early stage startup & VC traditional lens for principles behind where you might stand with Burn Rate Efficiency. We have a company in the upper left with super high efficiency, but should be pushing velocity, even if it causes tradeoffs with efficiency – we just need a fundraise cycle to do so.The “should” can be debated – the underpinning of the guidance depends on course on risk appetite, among other factors, and this assume high risk appetite for early stage companies.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  25. Peng Jin

    The Great Firewall uses DNS to block out websites. When you roam on foreign SIM cards, the DNS service is still provided by your home carrier. That is why it still works. For the same reason, Chinese mobile phones can’t access Google even when outside China.That said, I am a bit surprised by the extreme views expressed by members of this community. I would have expected the AVC followers to be a bit more open-minded about this kind of thing. Don’t get me wrong. I hate the GWF, and I think it is sign of weakness for a country that claims its supremacy so publicly to worry about access to information. But the truth is when it comes to national policies, it is wrong to look at them from a black and white perspective. If you see a country as a startup on a much larger scale, it needs to learn, try, make mistakes, pivot too.

    1. jason wright

      Most Americans don’t have a passport. Their heritage is international, but that’s as far as it goes for the majority. US media is just as much of a Wall as anything China has. The US is a plutocracy and ‘democracy’ is its polite veil.

  26. sigmaalgebra

    I don’t understand India, Pakistan, SE Asia, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, or China at all well. It’s all inscrutable to me, and I would expect routinely to be surprised at what does work and what doesn’t. And that would be one of the last places I’d want to be or visit.Of the ones in Asia, China is the biggest and, maybe, the most important to understand.My guess is that China was, over the centuries, local warlords, some powerful, central emperors, back to warlords, and after WWII Chiang Kai-shek versus Mao, definitely a battle for the lesser of two weevils. Mao won.The Mao group tried stuff and killed a lot of people. Somehow eventually some of the leaders tried to do better, and there was the remark “I don’t care if the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice.”My guess is that since then, China has run basically a dictatorship but one that is better and better at catching mice. What they are doing might be like a command economy commonly used in war time.So, in many ways their economy is working, catching mice, but China remains a dictatorship and a command economy.What does China want? No doubt, what the dictatorship wants, and that is likely power. Then, in particular, citizens and consumers happy, affluent, with lots of rights, and some significant democracy are not wanted by the dictatorship.I see a not very long walk on a short pier: To get power, China wants to get money from selling outside China. Well, China can enslave its people in export industries if it wants, but also other countries don’t have to buy so much from China that they put their own workers out of work. So, soon, for the huge output of stuff, China won’t be able to sell nearly all of it they want. Next step: Sell the stuff internally. That will create affluent consumers. Presto, bingo, the consumers will no longer be so desperate for just a little piece of fish on a bowl of rice and willing to ignore everything else and then can start to care also about other common things including cases of freedom and democracy.Then the dictatorship will fall. It might be bloody. They will need a lot of leadership from a Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc. but likely won’t have those and, instead, for leadership themes will reach back into the history of Asia which for so long was about warlords, emperors, and starving peasants and not at all about affluence, freedom, or democracy.Maybe the progress made in Taiwan, South Korea, and maybe more in Asia could be good news for what China might achieve. Uh, apparently China has been good at reading the Western work in pure math, applied math, physical science, and major parts of engineering. Well, if they have copied US libraries, not far away on the shelves will be the foundations and evolutions of government, culture, and society from Greece, England, France, and the US China could copy.Alas, no doubt the dictators will fight to the end to keep their power. If China does learn about government from the West, then the outcome can be good, but I have to suspect that somewhere in the interim the rivers of China will have the most massive flow of blood in all of history.The US? It should stand back, try hard not to get involved in the blood letting, and otherwise defend itself from any violence might try to come from China to the US.

    1. Michael Elling

      Perhaps it is that they are very hierarchical. It does not appear that way at first, particularly if you look at this illustration comparing east vs west cultures. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…The eastern cultures (in red) appear to have a higher level of connectedness; the west less so. But that is a flat view. Turn the graph 90 degrees on its axis and you will see that the nodes are very hierarchical in eastern societies and less so in western. The level of interconnectedness may explain why eastern cultures are motivated by shame while Judeo-Christian cultures are motivated by guilt.Source is East meets West by Yang Liu illustrations about people and society, tastes, etc… support my hypothesis.

  27. scottythebody

    I wonder if pure Android (via your Pixel) has some sort of “tunneling” capability to ensure it can reach services regardless of network filtering conditions.The unreliability you experienced is definitely due to traffic inspections and filtering. There are a lot of people mapping this out and trying to figure out exactly what’s going on with the Great Firewall.You should definitely consider what this means carefully when traveling there. It’s almost a given that some service or some functionality on your phone or laptop is going to be misconfigured, vulnerable, or just badly designed and you should assume everything you do from such locations is going to be “sniffed”.VPNs aren’t as difficult to intercept as one might believe because most VPNs are secure by design, but managed by or created by people, who make mistakes in the configuration or operating the service. The ways to make them rock solid from a security standpoint also make them difficult to operate from an end user perspective, so almost nobody does that.

  28. scottythebody

    I was just in London and saw thousands of tourists from places with restricted and filtered internet. I didn’t speak to any, but I wonder what they think when they see unfiltered internet. Do they even know about the other services? Do they care? My general take is that if I were a person living under censorship and then went to a hotel wifi that was wide open, I might read all of Wikipedia and never leave my room. Has anyone created “internet resorts” for people who really just want to spend some time with bandwidth, a beer, and a wide open IP connection?

  29. Joseph K Antony

    Is it ever possible to do a complete blocking? Even without VPNs, a combination of steganography, mesh networks and satellite phones could circumvent almost any blocking. There are other options too.On a lighter vein, wouldn’t this be the limit of digital totalitarianism as currently practised in China?

  30. PhilipSugar

    We have a datacenter in Shanghai for just that reason. It is real and it is unpredictable. Sometimes it’s easy to access…….other times….not so much.

  31. Michael B. Aronson

    My last trip was about 50 percent trying to use google services, often had to use Microsoft stuff, had an account to receive all my gmail

  32. Kyle

    Most VPNs broke before days from the opening of 19th party congress. The rest are lucky ones but still are facing the interference from gfw. It’s why your services didn’t work sometimes. It seems that party has hold the tech of identifying “illegal” network traffics which it never hold before.

  33. Shanghai Reader

    Roaming on your T-Mobile SIM worked because they don’t filter roaming data on international SIM cards. I don’t know why.As for being able to simply defeat the GFW with a VPN, I think you underestimate the tech. Pretty sure machine learning is part of the firewall these days and it’s probably not that hard to train it to recognize traffic that looks VPNish. If they’re worried about killing legitimate traffic by mistake, they could just have it drop packets at a rate corresponding to the classifier’s confidence.

  34. JustinHK

    I believe that T-Mobile works because foreign SIM cards often have a proxy defined in their Access Point Name (APN) settings and those are allowed through by the GFW.There are some tools out there specifically designed for circumvention, e.g. the Shadowsocks protocol (… or non-profit tools such as Lantern ( designed for China.

  35. Gilbert Leung

    “TMobile SIM card seemed to be able to bypass the great firewall and access Google and Twitter without need for a VPN”That’s a feature. Users on foreign networks roaming in Chinese networks bypass GFW.

    1. Cam MacRae

      You can even bypass the GFW on China Mobile if you activate the SIM in Hong Kong.

  36. Douglas Crets

    Just wait until they use blockchain and cryptocurrency to create a version of the financial system that looks like a China-only or an Iran-only or a Russia-Only internet. It’s sort of sprinkled in all of the financial regulatory documentation that they issued prior to this crypto ban that is not really a ban.

  37. creative group

    Josh Habdas:upvoted on the VPN and privacy protection info.If BTC ever develops or matures where market based trading fundamentals are established and an entry point of $1.00 contact us ASAP.

  38. scottythebody

    Oh wow. Guess I did because I did my monthly buy right before it.