Unblock a website in China?
June 18, 2009 9:14 AM   Subscribe

How do I get my company website unblocked in China? We are a water quality manufacturer and have no idea why we are being blocked?

I've tried google, search engines and friends in Taiwan. I can't get an answer on the why and how to blocked sites in China. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
posted by Macboy to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm assuming you mean getting your site unblocked for access in China and that your service is located outside of China. Without more detail, it's hard to say. But, a likely cause is that your hosting service has other sites that have drawn the ire of the "Great Firewall" wonks. If that's the case, I don't think there is much you can do. It's not like there is a dispute resolution process for the blockage.

You might query your service provider if they know about this. Another thing I've noticed is that obscure domains can take a while to resolve. I've started using OpenDNS which has helped somewhat.
posted by michswiss at 9:29 AM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback. I'll look into OpenDNS.
posted by Macboy at 9:32 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: OpenDNS has nothing to do with the Chinese firewall. There is no way to use it to get around the firewall and there is certainly no way to use it to "unblock" your site for others.

Getting unblocked by the Great Firewall sounds pretty difficult. You could try finding someone familiar with the Chinese bureaucracy to see if there a process, but I doubt it. If the block is based on the host rather than the domain name, you could potentially solve it by switching hosting providers.
posted by meta_eli at 10:22 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you considered trying to contact the nearest Chinese consulate and asking for advice? They might be glad to help you, if as michswiss said, for instance they are mad at your hosting provider, they might steer you to another one, thus solving your problem.

Of course if you wind up making changes to your vendors or otherwise hurting something else to gain access to the Chinese market, you might want to do something like steer some other business their way, or make a contribution to Amnesty International or some more China specific human rights organization, in order to offset accommodating authoritarian governmental douchebaggery.
posted by Reverend John at 10:41 AM on June 18, 2009

It's an entirely opaque and arbitrary process that you'll have little joy trying to intervene in, from what I know. The NYT once got unblocked after their editor personally raised the issue when interviewing the then Party Secretary, but that's obviously a level of contact you'll never manage.
If your site is innocuous politically the chances are, as michswiss has said, that you're being hit by an IP block on your current host due to some other site on the same server/ in the same IP range. If potential China business is important enough to you then changing providers or resolving this with your current host (thay may have servers operating in other IP ranges) may well solve the problem, but due to the lack of transparency in the blocking it's hard to say for certain.
posted by Abiezer at 10:51 AM on June 18, 2009

Get a new domain name that isn't blocked.

Sorry, but this is probably the only way that doesn't involve a swift descent into Chinese bureaucratic hell.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:57 AM on June 18, 2009

New domain name, new hosting service.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:35 AM on June 18, 2009

Yeah new domain and a new ISP, hopefully one that you can check isn't suffering from the great firewall. Could you maybe even find a Chinese ISP?
posted by chairface at 11:51 AM on June 18, 2009

Does the word "free" appear in your domain or company name? The webmail provider freenet.de is blocked by the Great Firewall, nobody in China can successfuly reply to an email. Another webmail provider web.de can be reached without a problem.

It's likely just because of the name, since the distribution of oppinions/dissidents using either service should probably be the same. (OK, so dissidents might prefer something with free in the name :-)
posted by mmkhd at 1:23 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Our domain name is www.sensafe.com and we make water testing kits. I have no idea why we are blocked.
posted by Macboy at 1:39 PM on June 18, 2009

Another thought that occurs is to check with your ISP that it's not them blocking traffic from China - some sites are unavailable here because the overseas host blocks all Chinese IPs due to the prevalence of spammers etc. from the PRC.
It's rarely as crude as some key-word in your domain name; for instance I can access freerepublic.com.
posted by Abiezer at 9:31 PM on June 18, 2009

I have no idea why we are blocked.

A couple of guesses:

1) You compete with a (well connected) Chinese manufacturer.

2) Certain words on your site trigger blocks because they talk about things they don't like (eg. water quality and Chinese censors are trying to suppress news of Chinese pollution). (tinfoil hat)

3) Chinese government is trying to prevent people from testing water and realizing the extent of pollution mentioned. (tinfoil hat getting tighter)

4) You have porn or subversive content on your site (Hey there hot lama, can I moisten your test strip?). (kidding)

5) One of the associations you link to is also blocked and you are associated with their content through your links.

6) What Abiezer said.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:40 AM on June 19, 2009

Hi ya'll,

I am not an internet expert, but I am behind the GFW:

1) domain name has little to do with it: the GFW works by identifying offending IP addresses and creating a feedback loop that sends the surfer to a non-existent IP address. You don't see a 'naughty naughty' sign from the government, you get a connection time-out. Depending on what kind of hosting you have, your server (and thus IP address) may be shared by hundreds, if not thousands of other sites. if one of them is deemed offensive, the whole server is blocked.

--solution: get a dedicated server.

2) I highly doubt the content of your site got you blocked. check out Danwei for their long and nuanced posts about the GFW, how it operates and how they themselves have alternated between blocked and unblocked on the mainland. (they, like twitter, youtube, facebook, flickr farm4, wordpress.com, blogspot and others, are currently blocked)

3) I also doubt the block is a financial or competition issue: in a nation without much regard for copyright, the sincerest form of business flattery is Shanzai--someone will start selling a blatant copy of your product for cheaper. if your product is manufactured in China, your manufacturer may already be doing this.

good luck!
posted by markovitch at 6:57 PM on July 7, 2009

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