Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube are all banned websites in China, blocked by the so called “Great Firewall”. And while many creative citizens have found ways to bypass the blockade, the Internet was shocked to learn that even the founder of the controls himself sometimes (tries) to wriggle out of them.
Fang Binxing, who is widely considered the “father” of the firewall for his contribution to the creation of the censoring system, was holding a lecture at the Harbin Institute of Technology in Heilongjiang province, when a link to a Korean website he was trying to access fell victim to the dreaded barrier.
But instead of navigating away, Mr Binxing promptly moved to set up a VPN – a virtual private network that alters your location to make it look like you’re overseas. In doing so he was able to work his way over the wall and onto the site which was ironically designed to demonstrate the use of censorship in South Korea, but his success didn’t last long.
Throughout the lecture the VPN continually crashed, leaving Mr Binxing to scramble to get it back online and eventually continue without it. It didn’t take long for shocked students in the amphitheatre to start boasting about the moment online, but they unfortunately weren’t given the opportunity to question the cyber expert in person as a post-lecture discussion was reportedly canned.
China’s online controls are designed to deny Internet users access to foreign websites not approved by the state.