And there goes the continent…

Well, it looks like PBwiki is now blocked in China. Time for a party shirt. Maybe they didn’t appreciate my recent trip there, where I dressed up like the Red Army and had Chinese tourists gigglingly ask me for a picture. I swear governments have no sense of humor.

In all honesty, this is a little disheartening. PBwiki’s #2 most popular language after English is Chinese by a very good margin, due in part to our excellent internationalization support and full-text Unicode-compliant search. So without a great deal of cleverness and tomfoolery on our part, we may have to say goodbye to China for now. 😦

The technical details follow, for the interested; traceroutes from two IPs behind the same router – one that runs the production site (and is therefore blocked) and another that acts as a development box (and is not blocked). And yes, we’ve verified that people in China cannot access PBwiki.

From a happy machine (not production)

traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
1 ( 0.464 ms 1.540 ms 1.538 ms
2 ( 1.513 ms 7.387 ms 1.486 ms
3 ( 8.423 ms 8.419 ms 8.416 ms
4 ( 9.584 ms 9.592 ms 8.639 ms
5 ( 77.005 ms 199.762 ms 74.967 ms
6 ( 9.585 ms 9.382 ms 8.308 ms
7 ( 349.718 ms 384.789 ms *
8 ( 266.624 ms 267.645 ms 266.424 ms
9 ( 267.358 ms * 268.028 ms
10 ( 300.136 ms 300.024 ms 299.729 ms
11 ( 298.839 ms 300.374 ms 299.455 ms
12 ( 296.805 ms 296.805 ms 298.589 ms
13 ( 299.015 ms 296.626 ms 298.583 ms
14 ( 301.073 ms * 300.567 ms

from an unhappy machine (production)
traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 ( 1 ms 0 ms 0 ms
2 ( 1 ms 1 ms 1 ms
3 ( 8 ms 9 ms 8 ms
4 ( 14 ms 9 ms 11 ms
5 ( 8 ms 8 ms 8 ms
6 ( 9 ms 8 ms 8 ms
7 * * *
8 * * *
9 * * *

Published by David Weekly

I like starting things. I founded PBworks (originally PBwiki) and am the cofounder of SuperHappyDevHouse and Hacker Dojo. I advise a dozen startups and am a mentor for Founders Institute, i/o Ventures, and Women 2.0.

9 thoughts on “And there goes the continent…

  1. You know, a local Chinese fellow recently sued China Telecom (the same people who appear to be blocking you) and he got unblocked because he made it into a commercial issue, not a political one. (see:

    Every blogger (among other blocked sites) using blogspot/blogger to promote his or her business is essentially getting screwed commercially by the Chinese telecoms (because they in fact are the ones doing the blocking, not the nefarious security agencies — who are just telling them to do it).

    It is clearly a form of digital trade embargo and should be treated that way. The Chinese gov never admits that they have a political reason for blocking this or that site, hence people should treat it exactly that way — if it’s not political, then it’s either technical or commercial. (Just like that guy in Shanghai who sued China Telecom.) If technical, then a call to tech support ought to do the trick. If commercial, then do what anyone would do if a certain country suddenly kept turning a gajillion pounds of products for no stated reason whatsoever!

    Those of us in China — Americans and Chinese — do care about this a lot, and it would actually help advance Chinese democracy if American companies made a bigger deal about this.

    Tell your Congressperson that China Telecom is blocking you. Not “the Chinese gov is blocking you” — because that’s actually not true. It’s the Telecom that is blocking you. Until the gov actually steps in and declares the block is being initiated by the government (which they never do), then it’s a commercial issue. And the Telecom will be in the hot seat, not the government per se. Even Chinese courts will have to hear these cases. They have no choice. They have to live up to their own b.s.

    If the US Congress starts hearing the same story from small and medium sized IT companies all over the US, it will really start to matter. Why should China Telecom be blocking US companies in China and still be free to operate in America (via China Telecom USA and other subsidiaries) without any kind of trade penalties?

    Companies like trade freely on our stock exchanges and are yet given a clear competitive advantage over American companies by the inexplicable and seemingly reckless blocking of American websites who are their competitors.

    Or, Why Cisco be allowed to make a ton of money selling to the Chinese security services and PBWiki be prevented from providing a great service to the average law-abiding Chinese citizen?

    Rarely do free speech and free trade neatly in one issue. I should imagine that every member of Congress would have a strong interest in this issue.

  2. Jing,

    I regret to report that there’s nothing we can fix at PBworks. This is a policy of the Government of China, which (sadly) I do not control. There’s no form they have or procedure I’m aware of for getting unblocked.

    -David Weekly
    Founder & Chairman, PBworks

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