China General

I went to Xian this weekend and really noticed how bad the pollution is here in China. I know Beijing is high but I usually dont smell it or feel it in my lungs however in Xian I did. At one point my felt light headed as if I was breathing in car fumes. Not good. I might need one of those painter masks or a gas mask, geez.

There are a few new changes in the Beijing subway. I’m posting this to let everyone know what the two updates are. Good news is both changes are positive. First is the new subway line 5 which is a north to south line crossing through Yonghegong line 2 and Dongdan line 1 and then Chongwemen on line 2 again. This is great and traveling to other places can now be easier and faster. This line is also suppose to have new lcd screen inside the train cars and mobile phone service which is amazing! Now I can finally talk on the subway ride, although I believe it’s only on this 5 line. I wish this service could be available on all of the lines. Maybe soon? The other change is that subway fares are only 2 yuan now instead of 3. Hey saving 1 yuan per trip will add up. As Buddha said “even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel”. Hopefully this change won’t increase the already congested subway cars.

In my opinion, you can find the best chocolate cake in the world in the “Cafe Bros”. The owner is Korean, you can find the cafe near Wudaokou Subway Station. Just walk about 500 m into west direction towards Beijing University at Chengfu Lu, you find it at the left side (and no, I do not get any money for this post)


五道口华清商务会馆底商 E 号 ,

Tel. 82863198

chocolate cake in Chinese: 巧克力蛋糕 “qiaokeli dangao”.

Some good news for Wikipedia Fans in China. The popular online encyclopaedia seems to be available at least in Beijing, I don’t know about other parts in China.
Wikipedia has been censored in China since October 2005 (with a short interruption in October 2006).
At the moment, nearly all articles can be accessed from China, only a few China-related articles (the main article about China, of course some articles related to human rights) are still blocked. If you search for Falun Gong, event eh search function does not work.
The popular blog platform is still blocked from China.
I have read nothing about it in newspapers yet – maybe it is no longer worth mentioning it, because the Chinese censorship department somehow can not make up its mind – to keep it blocked or not.
Probably, this is also a sign, that the Chinese government has improved its technology to block websites again, especially the filter to block content (not IP-addresses or IP-ranges) seems to work better now.

Censorship in China

A lot of people still think, that China is just blocking the internet somehow and trying to prevent people from using the internet. Actually, just the opposite is the case:
The internet is a perfect tool for the Chinese government to control the news and spread its propaganda – not only offline, but now also online. And it is a perfect tool to inform people, especially in rural areas about their rights (e.g. to control corruption).

The most popular news websites are controlled and censored by the government. Most Chinese are not interested in non-Chinese websites anyway (chatting, online games, blogging seems to be the only thing, Chinese do in internet cafes), so the Chinese just seem to be content to block foreign websites about human rights, Tibet, Falun Gong and somewhat for fun a few big US-newspapers. For blogs, it still seems to be different.

If Chinese want to have a blog in China, they have two choices: They need to register with a Chinese blog hosting services, which means, their blog will be controlled by the company or they can host a blog on their own website – which means, they need a license for their website.
Therefore, something the Chinese government seem to be quite concerned about, are of course foreign blog- platforms like, because they want to prevent Chinese bloggers from using those platforms instead of Chinese ones

I am curious, how long Wikipedia will stay unblocked in China this time.

It seems, that at least in Beijing, it is not so easy anymore to extend your F-Visa. Until now, it was never a problem to extend it for another 6 month, now a few people I know had problems even getting a 3 month extension.

Probably, teh guidelines changed, because the Chinese government wants more control because of the Olympic Games next year or maybe more control over foreigner coming to China with an F-Visa and working here without a proper working permission.

It seems, that the Chinese Governement wants to punish owners of subways, which do not have a security plan for their subways. A good idea, making the subway safer. I know, there are a lot of security signs already, for example forbidding street sellers to stay in the subway exit area for a long time – without much effect of course. I imagine the subway station at Xizhimen, it is really crowded with street – sellers.

I wonder, if they have to bribe the subway security guys to get the permission to stay there.

Several weeks ago an earthquake in Taiwan, occurring on December 26th, destroyed underwater telecommunication cables, severely crippling the internet connection from China to other countries. Consequently accessing foreign websites has been extremely difficult over the past few weeks.

The cables were repaired over the weekend and one can really feel that the speed is back to normal. According to China Telecom most of the damages have been dealt with. China Netcom seconded this statement, assuring that notably the connection to North America has been fully restored.

News from the blogger community. A German blogger was sued in China and has to appear before a Chinese court. The summons was served by a German bailiff…German website: Autoblogger vor chinesisches Gericht geladen

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