We recently noted that this blog was no longer accessible in China, and wondered aloud why Beijing’s shadowy censors had seen fit to target ft.com. Well, we should probably have looked a little more closely at our blog setup. FT Tech Blog actually resides on servers run by blog host company Typepad, and it is access to Typepad that is being blocked by the Great Firewall see here

So there’s no reason to believe it was something we said that got us blocked – and rather than the target of some of China’s increasingly sophisticated and targetted censorship, we are merely among the many victims of a rather blunt instrument of internet control. Not that that is much comfort, of course.

China’s policy of blocking overseas websites has been noted here on more than one occasion, but it still comes as a surprise to find that FT Tech Blog itself appears to have become a victim of the government’s shadowy censors.

In recent days it has not been possible to access this part of the ft.com website from Beijing and Shanghai, with page requests just timing out – the usual symptom of a blocked site. The blog loads fine if accessed through an offshore proxy site designed to evade the censor. And a quick check on the block-checker site greatfirewallofchina.org  (see picture) also suggests we have been blacklisted. Read more

Fans of the Yahoo-owned photo-sharing website Flickr.com have been struggling to access any of its images in recent days, and the company says it seems Beijing’s censors are to blame.

Nothing too surprising there: China’s Communist party blocks thousands of international sites, even though the secretive culture commissars generally go easier on ones that like Flickr are in foreign languages and run by big internet names. Read more

Rupert Murdoch’s wife Wendi may be on the board of MySpace China, but the way the new venture’s CEO tells it, the famously interventionist News Corp mogul will play next to no role in how it is run.

Local executives will be in full control of MySpace China’s operations, technology development and marketing, insisted CEO Luo Chuan on Thursday, ahead of the launch of a beta test version of the www.myspace.cn site.  Read more

The Japanese search service established by Baidu.com earlier this year has been hailed as a pioneering effort by a Chinese internet company to establish a global presence. So why do Beijing’s shadowy internet censors appear to be blocking access to the new website?

Baidu is declining to comment on why baidu.jp cannot be accessed from within China in recent days, but industry observers are sure  the Japanese service’s tolerant approach to porn is the reason behind the block. As noted by bloggers writing in Chinese and English, baidu.jp’s main appeal so far appears to be Chinese internet users who find its image search function a better way to get hold of pornographic pictures than the main baidu.com service. (Take a look at the rather revealing user data on alexa.com hereRead more

The best way to guess what Chinese internet search leader Baidu.com is going to do next has always been to look at what Google is already doing – but until now email has been an exception.

That could be changing. In his blog (in Chinese) founder and CEO Robin Li has been musing aloud about the failings of Microsoft’s Outlook email programme, and hinting that Baidu could do better. Indeed, it seems the Chinese company might go bigger in terms of online email storage even than Google’s Gmail, which currently offers this correspondent 2,836MB.  Read more

In an intriguing exploration of the value placed on virtual life, a Chinese company has effectively held internet game characters hostage: demanding players give up their virtual goods or, get this, donate their real blood if they want to continue to play.

Moli Group recently froze the accounts of 30,000 players of its massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) title "Cabal" that it believed guilty of such abuses as using automated sub-routines to generate virtual wealth. Read more

Second Life may be moving into the world of voice, but it looks as if creator Linden Labs is at risk of being outflanked in the China market by an ambitious clone game, HiPiHi. (Demo video here).

Copying sites and ideas from the US, Japan and South Korea is the established route to internet success in China, and foreign companies ranging from Amazon to Yahoo! and Google have struggled to catch up after local look-a-likes seize a market presence. Read more

Beijing: With Google trailing far behind in Chinese internet search, Nasdaq-listed market-leader Baidu.com has been putting the boot in with a video commercial that mocks foolish foreigners’ ignorance about China. The spot, (available on Google’s own YouTube here ), features a local hero who crashes a wedding between a top-hatted Caucasian and his Chinese fiancée, woos the bride-to-be away, and leaves the foreigner vomitting up what looks like blood.

"I know you don’t know I know…you don’t know I know you don’t know," the Chinese scholar hero tells him in what is intended to be a demonstration of the importance of local linguistic understanding. Read more

At last an IT company is showing a bit of creativity in showing buyers how to use its products. Motorola, which launched its new China-market mobile smartphone in Hong Kong this week, has realised that nobody actually reads the manual – but people do watch TV.

So the new Motorokr E6, an entertainment-oriented reworking of Motorola’s popular Ming smartphone, comes with a pre-installed instruction video to teach buyers about its fancy functions. Watching the intro should also get smartphone neophytes used to the idea of watching video on a handset screen. Read more


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Beijing: Who says you can’t beat the pirates and file-sharers on price? Not Quacor.com, a new Chinese website whose English tag-line says it all: "The world 1st website for copyright movie absolutely free!".

Quacor, which opened shop last weekend, is offering a roster of Chinese and foreign films ranging from chop-socky comedy Shaolin Soccer to hacker fantasy Matrix Reloaded for download or streamed viewing without charge.

If it sounds a bit too good to be true, it may well be: we cash-strapped comrades at the FT Beijing bureau have yet to manage to actually watch any of the films despite repeated efforts, and the site’s discussion board is full of complaints that it is not working.

Quacor staffers say their servers have simply been swamped by demand, though, and the site may still be, er, one to watch.

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Beijing: Traffic lights here are notoriously unpredictable, in part because police try to ensure government leaders and visiting VIPs enjoy unimpeded transit around the city.

The result is that ordinary motorists at major junctions often find themselves sitting in front of a red light with no idea when it might change to green – and if it does, whether it will stay that way long enough to cross.

No doubt that’s how Wikipedia is feeling. After being blocked by the Great Firewall for a year, the cooperative encyclopedia’s non-Chinese versions became available to web-surfers in China last month, followed last week by the local-language edition.

The apparent change of heart by Beijing’s secretive censors prompted speculation they now plan more tightly targeted blocking of specific Wikipedia entries, such as the one that discusses the government’s bloody suppression of popular protests in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

(See informed discussion of Wikipedia’s unblocking here).

Mere partial blocking would be good news for China’s budding army of Wikipedians, but no sooner had thousands of would-be contributors signed on than the traffic light suddenly changed back to red; on Friday all editions of Wikipedia were unavailable from China.

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