Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Now, It's Personal

Last May, China's regulators decided to block all blogs being hosted on the blogger.com/blogspot domain. Because that's where this blog is hosted, it has been inaccessible in China, except to those who use a proxy or a VPN.

That's a shame because, up until the block, the second largest number of visitors to this blog came from China. At the time, visitors from China were about 3/4 the number from the US. Though my general topic, business-government relations in China, is aimed primarily at informing an English speaking audience, I was happy that there were at least a few readers in China, and presumably, some of them were not expats. My original hope had been to draw in both English speaking Chinese and non-Chinese who were interested in this very important topic, and to help Westerners have a little better understanding of how things work in China.

While the block bothered me, it wasn't of major concern. It's not my innocent little blog they have a problem with, I figured: there are probably a few dissident blogs on blogspot that directly challenge CCP rule, so they're blocking them all just to be safe.

And you really can't blame them. After all, former leaders of dictatorships have historically not fared too well under new democracies. (The name "Ceaucescu" probably still keeps dictators up at night.)

To counter the block, I even went to the trouble to buy the domain www.chinabizgov.com so that I could eventually migrate my blog away from blogspot.

Today, I read a piece in The Guardian by Jeremy Goldkorn, keeper of the excellent Danwei.org blog which has been blocked in China since July 3. In the article he draws a connection between China's paranoia of censorship and its lack of innovation.

Goldkorn's article reminded me that I needed to start the process of migrating my own blog away from blogspot to chinabizgov.com, but when I tried to access my domain without the aid of a VPN, I was shocked to find that it has also been blocked. While there's nothing there but a link to my blog on the blogspot domain, apparently I didn't just get caught up in the massive blocking of blogspot, but someone somewhere took exception to something in my blog. Someone, or something decided that anything with the name "chinabizgov" in it needed to be blocked.

As Goldkorn lamented in his article, I too have no idea what in my blog caught the censors' eyes, nor even whether the block was put deliberately in place by a person, or merely by a piece of software designed to block objectionable material. And if there is indeed objectionable material, I have no idea what it was, nor do I know whom I could ask in order to find out.

Before, I was willing to believe I was an innocent victim of the Party's paranoia. Now, it's personal.

And it's also very lame. If they're afraid of a little guy like me, maybe their grip on power is even more tenuous than I had previously thought.