Congratulations to Black and White Cat, which has finally unblocked itself. The popular blog with the catchy name has long been hampered by one of the most basic problems a China blog can possibly have: it was unavailable on the Mainland. I’m not sure if it had to do with their blogging software, which had been Blogsome, apparently a free blog service, or if it was something on the site that rubbed a higher up the wrong way.
Whatever the problem, this is a trend all too familiar for people working in the Chinese market. When Daily Tea Leaves went up I was overly cautious with what I said. The idea that the government really cared what I blogged about, given the fact that I have never openly advocated independence for any of the three hot spots (if you can’t guess which three you need to read up on China more).
Over the last several months I have discovered a few things about blogging in Overbearing Kingdom. First, the government only really cares about a few topics. Danwei gets away with a hell of a lot in what they post, and as far as I know they have yet to have a problem. Second, half the time websites go down it is guilt by association rather than specific content posted by the authors.
Let me give you an example from May. A number of China sites went down across the country, several of them aimed at foreign housewives. Not exactly racy stuff. Well it turned out that Shanghai Expat, a site that does little to reign in on the excesses of some of their posters, shared a server with them. It appeared that the government got irritated when the si
te allowed people to post topless pictures of Chinese women in the forums and make crass comments. The result was an apparent blocking of the IP address, and all the associated sites.
It did not take long for the site to go back up, but they were scrambling for a day or two. When I went out to set up a personal blog that talks about issues both China-related and other, I had the concern that joining a big Go Daddy server would leave me blocked. A friend who will have an article on the ancient Chinese instrument, the guqin, had the same problem, and only finally got his site unblocked when he followed my lead and switched away from Go Daddy.
So let this be a warning. If you are thinking about blogging half the time your server or format is more likely to offend than content. Skip the free guys (blogspot etc) and make sure your domain is hosted on a server that is unlikely to get blocked.
Here’s a list of interesting blogs about that China that are blocked. I’ve linked using Anonymouse so that our China readers can click through. Happy reading: