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Well I've been in China for two days and it's taken me this long to find a place with Wi-Fi and electricity.

Besides Facebook, which I expected to be blocked by the Great Firewall, I'm also having trouble with Wikipedia and Stack Exchange chat.

Is there a known problem with SE chat due to the Great Firewall, or is it more likely just a problem with the place I've found to use the Internet so far? (Dico's restaurant in Mengla, Yunnan.)

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If you are getting the chat page and the "Please wait" box is stuck, it is not due to the great firewall I guess, I faced that a lot in places with very slow internet. The best thing is to change to the mobile version (click on the mobile link, bottom right) since it has less jQuery background loading.

  • I've found a second place with Wi-Fi now and mostly the same problems. Still no Wikipedia and no Stack Exchange chat but very sporadic Stack Exchange otherwise. HaLaBi, would you mind putting a message on my Facebook page that I'm in China and might not have Facebook access until I cross the Mongolian border? I entered China a day earlier than intended so missed the chance to warm my friends and family. – hippietrail Oct 29 '13 at 9:55
  • I've also had this quite a bit, and after going through the help there's a place to login to the global SE network. Going back after that then seemed to solve it. It's certainly not consistent though :( – Mark Mayo Oct 30 '13 at 0:08
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    @MarkMayo: I tried all that over and over. I've now had much better connections from the next two cities I stayed in so it looks like HaLaBi got it. – hippietrail Oct 31 '13 at 13:57
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I do not know about SE specifically but my experience over 15 visits to China and reports from friends "in country" who I have tried to provide photo access to is that many sites are blocked or significantly affected by the GFWoC. Some that come to mind are GMail, Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Wikimapia, Fotki, Flickr, ... . Most sites that serve photos. I have seen Facebook pages created by friends of mine 'in country' but am told they are not meant to access FB and people 'in country' who I have pointed to my FB photo pages have not been able to access them. Skype works well - and allows photo and other file transfers.

D...box has recently introduced albums and so far (as of a few weeks ago) these work.

GMail used to work until a while ago when Google withdrew from China. Best bet is now Google Hong Kong which half works.

I'd not guarantee that Mongolia is any better - but have no direct experience.

An excellent "work around" is to use the free for non-commercial use TeamViewer . This is effectively remote PC access software and you need a tame PC somewhere on the outside to access BUT once loaded you can get full access to anything the remote PC can do. (I transferred files across a home LAN between remote PCs, accessed programs on the remote system and can access any of the above services. Operation can be optimised for speed or display-quality and overall the experience was very pain free after a modest amount of learning. The footprint on the mobile/remote device is small and it will run on a wide variety of platforms.

  • My friend who has now been an expat in Mongolia for a couple of months is on Facebook all the time. Different country with different politics and at least the capital seems to have decent connectivity. I don't have a remote PC this time but that sounds like a great idea for other people that encounter similar problems. – hippietrail Oct 31 '13 at 13:59
  • And another friend has helped me set up TeamViwer for the other sites that really are blocked rather than just slow: Facebook and Wikipedia. Thanks for that tip. – hippietrail Nov 1 '13 at 15:00
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At least some Stack Exchange content (non-chat) is blocked in Iran.

For example, Persian Cat has mentioned an English Language & Usage page being censored in Iran for mentioning the holocaust, and the Christianity Stack Exchange is blocked according to her profile.

I don't know if this affects China, but I wouldn't be surprised.

I've also heard claims that various sites that grab content or interact with twitter or other social media sites are subject to slowbanning by the Great Firewall. I don't know if Stack Exchange is affected by this.

  • Yes I thought it could be that some components, perhaps provided by Google, might be blocked and thus preventing the site from working. But it seems that wasn't the case and just the city of Mengla had poor connection to western sites in both places I got online from. – hippietrail Oct 31 '13 at 14:01
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A handy way to test: Does it work in China? - was found on hackernews today, and tests to see if a website is blocked in China for you.

According to that, at least, it should be working fine.

  • Actually this website doesn't seem to load all the components of the site it's testing. I'm guessing it only loads the main HTML page itself. Because it says both travel.stackexchange.com and chinese.stackexchange.com are OK but while travel.SE does work, two files served from SE's CDN are blocked which prevent chinese.SE from working. – hippietrail Nov 4 '13 at 4:13
  • Well now it's making a liar of me and chinese.SE is working. So I still don't know if the website you list tries to load all components or not ... – hippietrail Nov 4 '13 at 4:16

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