Friday, July 8, 2011

Access to Google+ in China

[UPDATE: Information below is from 2011. More recent post (January 2012) on access to websites in China here: Not Black & White: Access in China to Amazon, Facebook, Google+, Windows Live, Yahoo! and More]

Lately, I've been keeping track of the availability of Google+ in China.

There's been a bit of interest on the topic.  To make life simpler I will try something new and only place future updates in the space below.  I will not update earlier posts.  I will only write new posts on this topic if there is significant news (for example, complete unblocking or blocking of Google+ for an extended period of time) or I have new musings.  I will link to any such posts from here as well.

I will note updates to this post publicly.  Feel free to circle, follow, share, or whatever it is you like to call it.
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Latest Google+ status updates (China Time):
  • August 3, 10 p.m. -- Google+ DNS blocked.  Google Maps, Groups, Photos, Calendar OK.  Gmail took a very long time to load but ultimately worked.   Google News is sometimes blocked, sometimes not (peculiar).  Google Documents DNS blocked.  Picasa completely blocked.
  • July 18, 4:30 p.m. -- Google+ is DNS blocked and the block is immediate.  I also noticed that the problems with some items from seem to be browser specific.  Again, the problem doesn't appear to be caused by China's Great Firewall.
  • July 13, 9 p.m. -- Google+ is DNS blocked.  This time the block was immediate.  I've also noted that some items from do not successfully load even with the VPN turned on.  So, this specific issue doesn't appear to be caused by China's Great Firewall.  One guess is that it is due to the connection not being fast enough (but I really don't know).
  • July 12, 6 p.m. -- Google+ is DNS blocked.  This time, the block wasn't immediate but instead there was an attempt to connect that lasted over 6 minutes before a failure was indicated.  Also, while switching to a non-Chinese DNS server allows me to access Google+ there are typically a few items for each page that won't load.  For example, in my most recent experience several items from did not successfully load.
  • July 11, 2 a.m. -- Google + is DNS blocked.  First time trying Gmail took over 1 min for sign-in page to load.  2nd time (cookies cleared again) no problem.
  • July 9, 6 a.m. -- Google+ is DNS blocked.  Also tested Facebook -- completely blocked.
  • July 7, 11:30 p.m. -- Google+ is DNS blocked.
  • July 7, 6:45 p.m. -- Google+ is DNS blocked.
  • July 7, 3-4 p.m. -- Google+ is once again DNS blocked when using a local DNS server in Shanghai, China.  This time I tested on multiple browsers in two locations in Shanghai that appeared to use different local DNS servers.  The results were the same for all combinations. Again, switching to a non-Chinese DNS server resolves the problem.
  • July 6, 2 a.m. -- Google+ remains DNS blocked.
Note: For more about "DNS blocking" see my first post on the issue here: "Google+ Blocked in China".

Disclaimer:  I will try to keep an eye on things but I promise no regularity to the updates, especially if the situation seems to stabilize.  Also, I would love to check multiple other sites as well but currently it would be too time consuming.  For a variety of reasons, Google+ seems to be the most interesting site at the moment to keep a close eye on.  Normally when I am online, I use a VPN so I don't have to worry about any sites being blocked by China's Great Firewall.  And yes, my VPN has been working fine lately, but that's another story.


  1. You can test if a site is blocked in China in real time at

  2. I can't even get a damn Google+ invite here in Korea :P

  3. I guess I find it more amazing that it IS available at all. If it comes on and off like that then it just seems unreliable more than a censorship blocking issue. The Chinese government needs to relax their stance on this thing - I just don't think it is that big of deal for their citizens. W.C.C.

  4. hughesay, Thanks. I think the site has some interesting uses. However, I don't believe it distinguishes DNS blocking from more extensive blocking. Also, I don't believe it actually tests logging in and using the service. If it can/does, let me know!

    karenology, I see you've resolved that issue.

    W.C.Camp, I agree it is curious that it is available just through switching DNS servers (given that Facebook is fully blocked). It would be interesting to know how and why such decisions are made.