Father of China’s Great Firewall Discusses Being Persona Non Grata
The man known as the father of China’s so-called Great Firewall is defending his invention, which blocks out hundreds of thousands of foreign websites, and admits to owning software to evade the censorship he helped create.
In a rare English-language newspaper interview published Friday, Fang Binxing, president of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, told the state-owned Global Times that he owned six virtual private networks, or VPNs, to scale the firewall and determine what was and wasn’t accessible in China.
Fang is vilified within China’s small but thriving technological elite. On his site, Hong Bo, a popular IT blogger in Beijing who goes by the screen name Keso, features a voodoo doll of sorts with Fang’s head affixed.
“Fang Binxing is a synonym for the Great Firewall and people hate the Great Firewall,” said Hong, who added that he believes blocking open source sites such as Google’s Android is far more detrimental to the country’s development than censorship of anti-government material.
In one embarrassing episode in December, Fang joined a Twitter-like service in China known as a micro-blog or weibo. Within hours, he was battered by thousands of angry and abusive comments laced with expletives.
“He is the enemy of all netizens who are forced to scale the wall all day long because of GFW,” read one post translated by China Digital Times, a site dedicated to news out of China.
Fang shut down his account a few days later.