Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chinese Great Firewall Climbers

As we all know of the existence of the so-called “China Great Firewall” that bars China’s netizens from access of many websites which are deemed by the Chinese Authority as ‘inappropriate’, ‘indecent’ or whatever they want to call them, there have been debates on whether such wall is ‘just’ in view of the fact that many of those sites are actually very normal and popular that are using by millions of users outside the Middle Kingdom. With this ‘Wall’ in place, China netizens are officially forbidden to access Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. Certainly, there are ‘Chinese version’ of copycat sites available for netizens to use. However, it is just not the same, particularly for those ‘forbidden’ or simply ‘controversy’ contents.

As such, certain ‘tech savvy’ Chinese netizens simply use some ‘underground’ methods to ‘climb’ over the ‘Wall’ to get a taste of those ‘forbidden’ fruits. There is no official number on how many ‘climbers’ are there in China, neither nor the size of the staff of tech experts employed by the Government to police the net there and develop method to make those ‘wall-climbing’ methods obsolete. However, as we all know, there are always geniuses out there. Even for the best tech companies in the world, like Google and Apple, their highly sophisticated, safeguarded products have been jailbroken and cracked within short period of time after releases. Logically, there are holes in the China Greatwall that would be taken advantage of for the continuous enhancement and modification of ‘wall-climbing’ methods.

The availability of ‘wall-climbing’ method is one thing, the willingness of people to become ‘climbers’ is another thing. The allure of ‘forbidden fruit’ must be very tempting to make regular Joes and Janes to become ‘climbers’. Otherwise, most of them would simply stay in their cocoons and enjoying what they are using. There have been ‘rumors’ or ‘conspiracies’ that many ‘Western’ powers have been using many various methods in different forms or means to ‘lure’ Chinese people to ‘buy’ into their values which are not officially accepted by the Chinese Government. I’m not sure how successful those powers are so far. However, after reading the following latest news about what happened in China this week, I’m not sure if they will be ‘inspired’ somehow and see that a thing that make them go ‘hmmm’….

Sola Aoi is a very famous Japanese AV actress. Certainly, her works cannot be officially shown in China’s sites. But that has not stopped many ‘male’ Chinese netizens from knowing her through various underground channels, like pirate DVDs or video files getting through ‘wall-climbing’. Viewing her works is one thing, but getting to know her by communicating with her directly is at another whole different level. Earlier this week, Sola began using Twitter to communicate with her fans and it started with few hundreds of them mostly Japanese which seems to be quite normal and it wouldn’t be noticed or reported by newspaper if it was just that. The funny thing was that within hours, her fan population surged by thousands per hour and most of them are from China. That had shocked her but she was politely thanked her fans from China. The intriguing part of this incident is that thousands of Chinese male netizens got the news that Sola Aoi would be on Twitter somehow and they are only busily scrambling left and right within the China Greatwall to search and share ‘wall-climbing’ methods among themselves, but also actually did the ‘climbing’ to access Twitter to become her fans. I saw some comments on the news that some ‘climbers’ claimed that the China’s version of Twitter though is good and serve the same function as Twitter, the people that you want to follow will just not been found there…

Many Hollywood showbiz people, musicians, artists or even celebrities are on Twitter, not the China’s twitter sites. For $$$ reason, I would not doubt some of them may somehow create mirror posts in Chinese or some sorts in China’s twitter sites in future. However, some of them will just not be found there. Either because they don’t want to be in China or the authority deems that they are not ‘suitable’ to be granted with access there. Sola Aoi’s case is a prime example, and I wonder if similar incidents will continue to replicate in future. The repercussion is not how many Chinese netizens will become fans of foreign porn actresses. The real issues for the authority there that I can think of are:
1. Would some foreign powers explore this method for their own purposes in China?
2. What effects would be on the climbers after they have access to view ‘other’ sites out there as well?
3. How to improve the policing of ‘China Great Firewall’?

Information is like water that it is almost impossible to block, unless you are living in place like North Korea. I’m sure the Chinese authority will get its hands full on mending the ‘Wall’, and it will be a continue battle between two sides in foreseeable future. I guess, as a lucky ‘audience’ of this saga, I would be very interested to see how this continues to unfold in future.


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