China is known to possess one of the most pervasive and developed Internet filtration systems in the world. Navigating China’s tightly controlled and state-monitored online world has posed a unique challenge not just for Chinese citizens but also for visitors like Sara Marie Watson.
Miss Watson’s blog, aptly titled “Sara in China,” deals broadly with a number of issues involving technology and culture in China in general. In her most recent post, however, Watson provides a detailed account of her brush with China’s ”Great Firewall” Her post provides and telling snapshot of the extent of China’s filtering system and an example of the sort of experiences that have made China’s “Great Firewall” so notorious within the online freedom of expression advocate community. She writes,
“In thinking about what life on the internet might be like here, I had anticipated a few glitches and hiccups along the way. Over the last couple of months, I have become spoiled and perhaps even cocky, with pretty reliable and fast connections and better than expected video call quality. In large part, my experience of the desktop-consumed internet hasn’t changed much, save the added step of connecting the VPN every time I open my laptop. I had begun to feel as though I could get wherever I needed to go without much hassle. Hulu? No problem. Twitter and Facebook? Easy-peasy. But this incident made me appreciate just how capricious a state-controlled connection can be. Everything is running along fine, and then all of the sudden, BOOM! You’ve got next to nothing except one very small piece of the Chinese-native internet. Yeah, I felt that one.”
We highly recommend that you take a few minutes to check out her work!