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The China Firewall: Banned Keywords

By - September 01, 2004

greatwallAn update from the WSJ (paid sub) on the Great Chinese Firewall, quoting the China Internet project I played a small role in starting at Berkeley. The piece includes a list of keywords that are banned in China, a list that was first published by the China Digital News blog we launched last year.

It’s interesting to note how critical search is to the process of censorship in China and other countries. From the WSJ article:

The research project by the three universities, known as the OpenNet
Initiative, routed requests through computers in China to Google, Yahoo
and Chinese search engines, in which Google Inc. is an
investor, and, which is owned by Yahoo Inc. Searches with
sensitive terms like “Falun,” for the Falun Gong spiritual movement that
is banned in China, or “Free Tibet” were routinely cut off, without
sending back an error message, the report says.

The result, the foreign researchers say, is that the Internet in China
is very different from the relatively unfettered medium enjoyed in the
West, with implications for the creation of a seamless world- wide Web
of communications.
Mr. Zittrain says Saudi Arabia, for example, vigorously polices the
Internet in that nation, but unlike China, Saudi authorities make public
their general criteria for banning Web sites.

The banned list includes:
— Democracy
— Christian
— Falun Gong
— Hu Jintao
— Human rights
— Multiparty
— Oppose corruption
— Underground church
— Overthrow
— Prostitution
— Riot
— Sex
— Taiwan independence
— Tiananmen
— Traitor

Update:Wow – CDN got Slashdotted….

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13 thoughts on “The China Firewall: Banned Keywords

  1. Are they banning on exact match only, or on broad match; and what about misspellings?

  2. KungPaoCajun says:

    They ban the exact match and the identical chinese characters that the english translates to.

  3. I tried inputting the English terms/phrases “Christian” and “underground church” and even added “China” and the results were fine. I’ll have my fiancee give it a try in Mandarin later today. BTW, I’m trying this in China!!

  4. I’m shocked to discover they haven’t banned “vaspers” or “grate.” I have been banned from 3 American web sites, two theological and one web design blog of a very famous designer.

    John, I’m a web usability analyst, and I always post a comment when I experience a glitch or problem.

    I cannot post or read comments unless I right click on the comment link.

    This is not the web norm. Did you do this on purpose, or is my browser acting retarded again?

    I invite you to visit my site sometime.

    Cheers :]

  5. didn’t have to right click this time to go to comments.

    your reward, should you choose to accept it, is:

    Read the story, “Wake Up and Smell the Coffin,” or the article on Generating Creativity in Literature.


    Vaspers the [abrasive but nice] Grate

  6. Jason says:

    Also, if you try to search for “Jehovah” – (which is the actual name of God.)…it returns a page not found.

    Likewise, a search for “Jehovah’s Witness” is also banned.

    While in Shenzhen, you will not find many “Bad Press” about china on the internet.

    **** Has anyone had their computer have “strange problems” connecting to the internet while in China searching for banned keywords???? I have heard of this “problem” in the past and it mysteriously happened to my laptop while in China.

  7. I wonder if there’s any way to check whether one’s own website is being blocked to Chinese users.

  8. PB says:

    Does the wall have a effect on the speed? I’ve had a great deal of difficulty accessing sites at
    good speed outside the firewall. I’m able to bypass the firewall with my VPN Service , but the speed .. on or off the vpn service, is slow. I’m hoping
    someone has a configuration or something they can suggest.
    I’m in Shenzhen on China Telecom.

  9. Angela says:

    I`m using to bypass the Great Firewall. It`s extremely easy to use, you can turn it on or off with a click. Good stuff for living in China.

  10. AmyJohnston says:

    I am usingĀ to watch BBC from China and everything works great.

  11. Robbinhood says:

    Anonyms are great, but your traffic can still be read. A VPN is better in this regard, it will encrypt everything that leaves your computer. I use a VPN service that encrypts with AES and 256 bits keys. Site: It’s very easy to use. It also provide good downloading speed.

  12. blacklogic says:

    Nice information about the china firewall.