The Great Firewall Ban “Huang Ju” – Letters from China (Updated)

From Letters from China:

Dominoes left to right: Chen Liangyu, Huang Ju, Jiang Zemin

Search “ȪÑËèä” (Huang Ju) with Baidu or Google.cn and you will probably see either an error message or a blank page. It appears that Chinese search engines are ordered to ban “Huang Ju” again.

“Huang Ju” had been banned earlier this year and it was subsequently confirmed that he was hospitalised. Now what’s up with the number six of the Politburo Standing Committee?… [Full Text]

UPDATE (10/9/06): a closer look at China’s Great Firewall:

After this news was blogged on CDT, several people pointed out that their results for searching “Huang Ju” (ȪÑËèä) are actually different than this post said. Actually, people can search “Huang Ju” (ȪÑËèä) on Baidu but not on Google.cn if the user is inside of the Great Firewall, and people outside of the Great Firewall can search “Huang Ju” (in Chinese) on google.cn but not on Baidu. Puzzled by these results, we have conducted more testing on this issue and consulted several experts. Bill Xia of the Dynamic Internet Technology Inc. offered the following explanation:

“Some people are hitting the url filtering engine at the national firewall level. This filtering engine may have recently added huang ju’ to the blacklist or it may have been there but some people just tested it and realized that.

When a user hits that firewall, most people will be blocked for about 20 minutes from accessing that site.

Since it is on the national level firewall, you won’t hit it if you visit baidu.com from China, or if you visit google.cn from overseas. You will hit it if you search on Chinese search engines from overseas, or search overseas search engines from China. It will affect all website as long as the url contains that keyword.”

More testing by CDT and others support Bill Xia’s theory:

(1) When a user inside of GFW searches for the word “Huang Ju” (ȪÑËèä) on Baidu, the query does not go through GFW therefore you only get Baidu’s “very clean” database in the search results. But when the same user tries to directly (not using proxy) use google.com and yahoo.com (their servers are outside of GFW), his/her inquiry needs to go through the GFW therefore his/her browser will be shut down as a punishment and warning sign coming from GFW (not from the search engines themselves).

(2) When a user outside of GFW searches “Huang Ju” (ȪÑËèä), the result is the opposite: when he/she uses Baidu he/she will get the error page, but not on google.com or yahoo.com.

In fact, not only Baidu, but CDT has tested all Chinese search engines (more than half a dozen of them) whose servers are currently based inside of GFW, (google.cn not included); we got exactly the same error page from all of them.

(3) When a user inside of GFW using a proxy (including Hong Kong, Japan and US) search 黄菊 on Baidu, he/she gets an error page because this inquiry needs to go through the GFW. But the same user using the same proxy to search 黄菊 on google.cn and yahoo.com will be just fine. CDT has also conducted experiments that use a proxy within China to search HJ on Baidu, google.cn, and google.com. All data are consistent.

(4) When it comes to google.cn, we know that all of google.cn’s servers are based outside China, and therefore outside of GFW. (although if you test the google.cn domain name itself, it points to an IP address in Beijing.)

October 9, 2006 8:34 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society