Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Banned in China

I was checking out a recent article by Marc Faber over at the Daily Reckoning's Australia site, when I glanced in the sidebar and noticed the title of one of their recent posts.

The title read, "The Daily Reckoning Has Been Banned in China", and it began with the following information:

We are sorry to inform you that if you are in China you will not be able to read this. We’ve recently learned that the Daily Reckoning Australia web site is banned in China.

They went on to reproduce a screenshot from a site called, Greatfirewallofchina.org, which claims to show a real-time test of web addresses censored in China. I decided to try the site for myself yesterday (and once more today) to see how it works.

Of the ten or twelve URLs I entered into their test bar, I'd say half were blocked and half were available. It was an interesting test; Wall St. Journal's web site was blocked, while The Financial Times home page sailed through with no problem.

The same pattern held for other similarly focused financial sites; Financial Sense Online was blocked while Safehaven.com was available. This is interesting, because the two sites are not only similarly styled, they even carry some of the exact same content from writers contributing to both sites (myself included).

So is it site content that prompts this web censoring, or is there something else that trips the censorship alarm on these blocked sites?

I decided to run the test for our site. It turns out Finance Trends Matter is blocked, so I decided to try a few other Blogger hosted blogs as well.

The other Blogger sites, including a value investing blog and a blog devoted to fashion (decadent!), seemed to be available, so we know it isn't strictly a problem with "blogspot" domain names. I see from the comments on Daily Reckoning's post that they tried this angle and found the same.

The test does not appear to be a definitive, last-word statement on which sites are blocked and which are available (they note that the "testing is only based on one server on one location in China"), but for now it appears we are "banned in D.C.", I mean China.

Note: If anyone is reading this site from China, please drop us a line and let us know. We'd love to know more about how you are accessing information over there. Thanks.