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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Day of Great Firewall Fun

Since I last commented here on the challenges of using a VPN to "break through" China's Great Firewall, I would say the situation has generally improved (from my perspective) but occasional problems persist. One question I had was whether any of the problems I was experiencing were specific to my location. On that note, after arriving in Shanghai I noticed a nearly identical pattern of problems to those that had creeped up during my last few days in Changsha.

However, the situation was very different today when I went online at a cafe in Shanghai. I could not use my VPN at all. Otherwise, everything seemed "normal" (for China's censored Internet). Since my experience the past 2 days had been especially unproblematic, I wondered if this new VPN problem was somehow specific to the cafe.

Hours later and now at another location in Shanghai, I am not having any problems. But it does not appear I should place the cafe on any sort of blacklist, which is good because I like their food. A quick look at Twitter makes it clear that others in China experienced VPN difficulties during the same time as me.

So what accounts for today's changes? I've seen some speculation, but I'm not going to even try to make a guess right now. I simply share this to provide a taste of some of the challenges and uncertainty one can face when using (and relying on) a personal VPN in China.

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