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Scale the wall

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翻墙 (fān qiáng): scale the wall

Zola scales the wall. (High Tech Low Life)

The act of circumventing the Great Firewall of China, a large-scale, complex censorship apparatus by which the Chinese government blocks certain foreign websites and information, preventing Chinese netizens from accessing them. The Internet as it exists within the Great Firewall is known as the Great Chinese LAN or the Chinternet.

Many Chinese use software such as VPNs to mask their IP addresses and access blocked sites. Authorities regularly work to block the use of such software, however, making it harder for even tech-savvy netizens to scale the wall. Freegate, the name of a popular censorship circumvention tool, has been blocked as a search term.

One user explains on Sina Weibo why it has become necessary for netizens to scale the wall:

醉墨随风: Google is blocked, Yahoo is blocked, even the server for connecting to foreign websites cannot be found. Isn’t this tempo forcing people to scale the wall!?


“Scale the wall” was listed among the Top 10 Neologisms of 2009 by the popular liberal newspaper Southern Metropolis Weekly. The term came into use at that time as China began to block big-name foreign websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The United States has funded programs to help Chinese netizens scale the wall.

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