Chinese Web monitoring site GreatFire reported last week that the Great Firewall (as China’s censorship mechanism is commonly referred to) started banning access to Reuters’ Chinese website after it reported on news of JPMorgan Chase’s link to Lily Chang, the daughter of former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
GreatFire conducted tests on its servers, which confirmed the block by the Great Firewall. However, in a defiant response to this, GreatFire has launched a mirror site for Reuters China, which it says can be accessed within the country without the use of any circumvention tools.
The organization has already used this method for mirroring its own blocked site, FreeWeibo.com, which displays content censored on Twitter-like microblogging platform Sina Weibo.
To create the mirror sites, GreatFire used a subpath of Amazon and Google’s domains that support HTTPS access. This essentially means that China would need to block both hosting domains run by Google and Amazon to snuff out access to the mirror sites.
GreatFire is, in essence, betting on the fact that Chinese authorities won’t block these domains entirely, as it could risk plenty of negative backlash by bringing down thousands of sites in China that rely on these two Web services.
Even if China ends up blocking the domains, GreatFire’s Charlie Smith notes the impact “will bring the issue of online censorship to a very large group of people in China.”
However, there is another option Chinese authorities can take, which is to force Amazon or Google to remove GreatFire’s mirror sites willingly — and GreatFire notes that it can only hope Amazon or Google won’t practice such self-censorship.
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