This week in China, there is a place where you can tweet to your heart’s content, Facebook your friends, or Google a YouTube video.
Beijing normally blocks nationwide access to Western social media and news websites, but it’s opening a crack in the Great Firewall just big enough for participants at a technology conference in Wuzhen, China, to squeeze through. The country is hosting the World Internet Conference from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21, where leaders from local Internet giants, including Alibaba and Tencent, will mingle with executives from LinkedIn, SoftBank and other global tech companies.
This temporary opening of the gates doesn’t mean China is having second thoughts about Web censorship. Not in the least. China often lifts its controls on the Web for attendees of high-profile international forums, as it did for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing earlier this month. The Internet service in the media center at APEC allowed access to nationally banned sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Outside of the confines of this week’s Internet conference, China escalated its filtering of Web content. Censors began targeting sites funneled through Verizon Communications’ EdgeCast network. Verizon wrote in a blog post on Nov. 17 that domains were affected or partially blocked “with no rhyme or reason as to why.” China’s blocks are a source of frustration for “the whole content delivery and hosting industry,” the company wrote.