China’s Two-hour Internet Freedom Raises Discussion and Suspicion

China’s Two-hour Internet Freedom Raises Discussion and Suspicion
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

Translated and compiled by Shin-wei Chang

As China’s censorship has long blocked Google and other websites, a two-hour access has raised wide discussions and excitement in China. However, Taiwanese netizens call for the people to cherish the existing freedom and some even say the reason China allowed access is to find potential dissidents.

On the night of March 27, many netizens found they could access to Google and Instagram without having to go over the Great Firewall, the Internet censorship of China. The Washington Post reports, it remained for about two hours, triggering excitement and curiosity about the world beyond the “wall.”

The Great Firewall blocks many widely used websites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. Moreover, sensitive keywords such as, “The Tiananmen Square Massacre,” are also blocked.

In order to access these websites or information, netizens in China have to use virtual private network (VPN) services. However, free VPN connections are unstable, and its traffic flow is limited. If users choose to purchase a VPN service, it costs approximately US$5 to US$10 per month.

A surprising two-hour freedom

At 10:06 p.m. on March 27, a netizen posted a screenshot of browsing Google, adding the description “Without VPN.” The post was immediately spread through the Internet, and other netizens in China also posted their results of accessing to Google.

One of the netizens said on Twitter, “We can temporarily access to Google now. It seems unbelievable to everyone, so now people are searching for all kinds of information.” Another netizen says it feels strange browsing Google without VPN service.

One other netizens says, “Enjoy it while you can. Who knows what will happen next morning?”

The free access abruptly ended in about two hours. Some critics explained that this was probably because Google has activated a series of new servers, including vn, jp, uk, in, ar and so on. However, access to Instagram doesn’t applicable to this explanation.

Though Google is blocked by China’s censorship, it still provides job opportunities and funds to companies in China.

Opinions from Taiwan

On Ptt.cc, an online bulletin board system that has over one million registered users in Taiwan, a number of netizens are discussing this issue.

Most of them consider the reaction of netizens in China “heart-rending,” “pathetic” and “pitiful” for their “two hours of freedom.”

Other netizens say the Taiwanese should cherish the freedom and warn that if the Taiwanese don’t work hard to protect Taiwan’s democracy, “we will also end up like this.”

There are also people saying, ”China did this intentionally to find potential dissidents.”

Edited by Olivia Yang

Sources:
“Excitement in China as Google, Instagram jump Great Firewall – for just two hours” (The Washington Post)
Epoch Times Taiwan
China Times
Best VPN China


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