China, quite an unique country that owes dual standards on the information regulations. That is, the restriction on the public discussion on some political affairs and issues tend to be mitigated when there are some large international conference holding, like the passing-by Olympics. But for other days, all these restrictions remain. The access to various websites, including blogspot.com, wordpress.com, and facebook are totally abandoned. However, the restriction can be far more than this if you are holding a website for yourself, and unfortunately, you are using a domain hosted by Chinese companies and they are settled on a server in China (Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are excluded). The government can offer you strict supervising especially when you are writing political articles.
Bill, a good friend of mine, who is also a fan on programming and internet, stopped his website recently due to the delete of his account by his ISP, 000space. Unlike the previous accidents that he suffer, his confidence and courage on working for his cheerful site eliminates. A notice about this has been put under his domain. I am quite depressed to see this happen, with the reason that, the blogs that we build-up, as the only free space for our minds and thoughts, has gone totally. I really cannot tell why he can suffer this, illegal contents? That cannot be a good answer, since he is a man that never overlook the protection on copyrights. The only explanation can be available is the attitude from the ISPs overseas to the customers in China.
As is discussed above that when constructing a website in China, more broadly, constructed by Chinese citizens, the web site needs to apply for a license from the government as well. For blogs, there can be some additional measures besides the basic one for all the websites in China. The absence of such a license for the website in China can be serious:
- The space host for your website can stop the service of your site unless you successfully applied the license for it. It is a sufficient way to enforce the webmasters to apply such license. Still remember the crash in 2005 when plenty of website were closed in quite the same period?
- If your domain is hosted by an agent in China, they can stop your service as well due to the similar reasons. What’s more, your domain can even be forbidden and your whois record be deleted when the regulator regard it as necessary. Several examples like this are available through the internet.
Based on these reasons, most webmasters take the following steps to avoid the supervises from the government since it can seldom bring managers benefit but only trouble.
- Take the international domains, but not the Chinese ones with ‘.cn’ at the end. With suitable coupons, the annual fee for a .com domain can be as cheap as 3 to 4 dollars, or even cheaper. And you will never have to worry about the stopping of the service unless you are willing to.
- Host the websites overseas. For most webmasters who are not willing to apply for a national license, this is quite a substantive way. Some wealthy managers can purchase paid spaces for their sites, but for the others like me, we can only afford the free space. Then the problem on the stability of the website comes. Some websites can be deleted only depending on the mood of the ISP and you can hardly get any compensation from them. There is quite a large opportunity that you must hold, especially for the users of free space.
It is really a hard job for the webmasters in China to maintain their own sites. It is a kind of job that can hardly bring in any commercial benefit especially at the very beginning. The only factor that promoted the development of such sites in China is merely on the persona interest. I really don’t know how far the website for the Chinese web managers can go? More practically, how long can my blog maintain? It is a difficult question to answer.
As a final, wish all the web managers good fortune and enjoy the pleasure during the challenges to the difficulties.