If you’re new to China, you may be wondering why people keep talking about “The Great Firewall.” Are things really blocked? Is your online activity actually monitored by the government?

As I was clearing out some old files, I ran across this Internet usage warning that was given to all foreign guests when we stayed at an international chain hotel in China in late 2014. I think it does a good job of explaining The Great Firewall in a nutshell.

Take a look:

Thank you for choosing to stay with us.

Kindly be advised that surfing or browsing foreign websites in China is either very slow or not accessible due to government regulation (e.g. Facebook, Google and YouTube).

NOTICE: Please be advised that your internet activities, including the websites visited, messages left on the BBS and the contents of the mail received or sent through internet, are under surveillance by law enforcement agencies of the PRC, as required under the PRC laws and regulations. Please ensure that your internet activities comply with such laws and regulations.

Thank you for your cooperation.

I think that sums it up pretty nicely, don’t you? Many foreign websites (including irs.gov, which was annoying during tax season) are blocked, or so slow that they’re unusable, or result in a “connection was reset” page popping up. In addition to that, here we have a well-known hotel explaining that yes, the government is watching what you do online.

So, if you have friends and family who don’t understand why you have trouble seeing their Facebook messages, or who think you’re cuckoo for saying stuff is monitored, feel free to pass this post along. 🙂


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