The Other Great Wall of China

We had no problem finding internet connections throughout China. Internet cafes, or “net bars” as they’re called, with fairly quick download speeds, were not hard to find. Once connected, however, we did have our share of problems: for example, Hotmail and Yahoo often functioned poorly, and some news sources were blocked (like the NY Times). This was probably due to the so-called Great Firewall of China.

Even though Google and others have bowed to its wishes, the Chinese government wants to make it even harder to get on line. According to the Times of London, the Chinese government has banned any new internet cafes from opening. This is in addition to the 3-hour legal on-line time-limit placed in effect in 2005, it’s in addition to the no-one-under-18-admitted law, and it’s in addition to the requirement that all net bar users register with their ID cards before using the computers.

However, there is hope. About 113,000 recognized net bars exist in the country, and there may be many more illegal ones. Over 128 million new internet users have logged on in China since 2000, bringing the total official on-line population estimate to over 137 million (compared to 207 million in the U.S., making it the world’s second-largest on-line market).

(This site actually let’s you check to see what websites are censored there.)