Friday, January 18, 2008

Balkinization Banned in China


I'm in China this week, attending a conference on antidiscrimination law organized by the Yale Law China center and Sichuan University held at Chengdu in Sichuan province.

Speaking of discrimination, a law student who picked me up at the airport explained to me that he had heard of Balkinization in China but that, at least in Chengdu, the site was blocked. When I got to the hotel I checked and sure enough, he was right.

(I was able to determine that the site is still up in the United States by using a proxy server).

It is not entirely clear why Balkinization is sufficiently subversive that its content is blocked in China; however, Interent blocking schemes are often arbitrary.

For amusement, I also tried to see if I could reach a number of other prominent law and law professor blogs. I was able to reach Volokh Conspiracy, SCOTUSBlog, How Appealing, Election Law, Instapundit, Mirror of Justice, Concurring Opinions, Becker-Posner, PrawfsBlawg, Feminist Law Professors, Business Associations Blog, Lessig Blog, and Black Prof. I was not able to reach Balkinization, Althouse, U Chicago, Leiter Law School and The Conglomerate.

There is almost no reason to believe that, from the standpoint of the Chinese government, Balkinization is more subversive than Volokh Conspiracy or Becker Posner, or a number of other blogs on this list. It is likely that, as with most Internet filtering schemes, the results are some combination of overblocking technology, arbitrary decisionmaking, and simple luck of the draw.

It is also possible that Balkinization and other sites are blocked in some locations in China but not others. If you are able to obtain access to the site (without using a proxy server) in another part of China, please let me know. I am going on to Hong Kong later in the week to give a lecture on, fittingly enough, Access to Knowledge. When I arrive I will try to see whether it is also filtered there.


They are probably worried that Sandy Levinson is going to overthrow their constitution (if they have one).

You have just run into the Great Firewall of China.

Interesting particularly because of the guest blogger who posted a few pieces on the Chinese legal system.

I'm pretty sure all Blogger-hosted blogs are blocked, and possibly even all blogs powered by Blogger. I doubt your content is actually relevant to their decision process.

I'm sitting in Guangzhou, China right now. They haven't target you specifically - they have blocked all blogs on blogger. The solution is to look up proxy.pac (and then China blocked blogs) and you'll find a few fairly good workarounds on the situation.

Strangely a few years back, Samizdata was blocked by The Great Firewall... but just as suddenly, then we were we not, in spite of discussing Taiwan and Tibet and making some none to kind remarks about the Chinese government. Go figure. I guess we are not trying hard enough! :-)

Clement Wan is right. It is not you, it's Blogger. In the last year blogger sites have been banned on and off. You may wake up one morning and find out that you can access your blog. A couple of months later it may be banned again. Why? Only the gods above and the Chicoms know.

BTW, it won't help if you get your own DSN (, for example) but still use Blogger as a redirected service.

There are ways to get past the Great Firewall of China, though. You can have a friend open a Windows remote desktop session for you so you can access the net as if you were in a foreign country, or you can use one of the redirecting sites around the world that relay for sites banned by the Chinese, Iranians, Indians, etc. I don't list them because as soon as they are found by the Chicoms they are banned. The good news is that as soon as that happens a new one pops up somewhere in the world.

If you can afford it, of course, you can always use your cell phone to dial a foreign ISP.

I am in Shanghai and many sites are blocked as well. Luckily there are proxy sites such as that allows to browse wikipedia, blogspot blogs and the like...

There are regional vagaries to the firewall.

They block Leiter's blog? Don't they know a fellow communist when they see one?

You are on Blogger. Blogger is blocked. It has nothing to do with you. If you want to be visible in China, you need to switch to a small, pay service and then you will have no problems. It's that simple.

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