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The Great Firewall of China is a term used to describe the extensive censorship and surveillance measures implemented by the Chinese government to control the flow of information on the internet within the country. These measures aim to restrict access to certain foreign websites and social media platforms, as well as monitor online activities of Chinese citizens. The Great Firewall is seen by many as a barrier to free speech and a violation of internet freedom. It has been a subject of much criticism and controversy both within China and internationally.


A Case Study on Website Localization for China

In a world where digital presence is crucial, China’s “Great Firewall” can seem like an insurmountable barrier for many companies.

There are numerous reasons why a website cannot be accessed from China, and there is also no surefire way to determine exactly what causes a website to be blocked. The information found on the internet is through blogs, Wikipedia, and forums. These mention everything from political texts to the company in question competing with Chinese companies.

In November, we noticed that a recently launched website we produced for an international company could not be accessed from China. It didn’t take long to realize that the embedded videos from Vimeo could be a problem. Unfortunately, Vimeo, which is a popular video sharing platform, is blocked in China. This presented a unique challenge for our client, whose website contains important video content hosted on Vimeo.

To address this, we developed an IP-based solution that identifies the visitor’s geographical location. If the visitor is outside China, the video is displayed as usual. For visitors within China, where Vimeo is blocked, an informative text is displayed explaining that the video cannot be shown.

Unfortunately, this did not help and the website was still blocked.

We then tried creating a subdomain where we duplicated all the content to see if it was possible to bypass the blocking. The solution worked for one day and then it was also blocked.

This led us to focus on security. Considering China’s strict internet regulations, we suspected that our free SSL certificate from LetsEncrypt could be a problem. We invested in a custom SSL certificate with high security and installed it via CloudFlare. At first, nothing happened, but after three days, it suddenly worked and we bypassed “The Great Firewall of China”.

Do you also have challenges in displaying your website to the Chinese market? Contact us here and we will help you.

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