Under the Golden Shield

As was to be expected, James Fallows’ article on China’s Internet control system, “The Connection Has Been Reset”, is an excellent one, well-informed and balanced.

Funny enough, when I followed Fallows’ recommendation yesterday and downloaded the software for a “virtual private network” (VPN), I experienced exactly one of the measures described in his article. Sitting in a café, I was able to read the homepage of the VPN company, but when I wanted to order the product, the connection was blocked for some minutes.

But after a while, I was allowed to complete my purchase, and now I am able to access the blocked sites whenever I want (Wikipedia and the Blogspot blogs having been especially annoying blind spots on my Beijing Internet map). It’s like the watchdogs just wanted to tell me: “Don’t you think we don’t know what you’re up to – but look, we are a friendly bunch of people!”

Update Feb 28, 2008: There is an additional interview with James Fallows online at the Atlantic’s website: Penetrating the Great Firewall.