web stats
Xinjiang, China Internet Restored After 10 Months of Being Cut



Xinjiang Internet Restored after 10 Months

May 14, 2010 | 48 Comments

After 312 days of heavily restricted internet in Xinjiang - that's 53 short of an entire year - it appears as if internet access has finally been restored.

Internet has finally been restored in XinjiangResidents of Xinjiang woke up from a 10-month nightmare this morning to find that their computers could finally connect to the world wide web.  Previously only a select few websites could be accessed from within the province, mostly news related and all of which were Chinese-operated (see time line below for details).

The restrictions began on July 6th, 2009, a day after thousands of people filled the streets of Urumqi in anger and protest.  Official numbers put the death toll at 197 with nearly 2,000 others injured.

It's not exactly clear what, if any, restrictions still apply but programs such as proxies and China VPNs which yesterday were ineffective can now be used.  Gmail and chat programs are available.  Updates will be made to this article the more I find out all the details.

Update 5/14: The Xinjiang government has set up a phone and email hotline for internet users to report "harmful" misuse of the web.  Article from Tianshannet.  Also, the government has issued a letter thanking residents for their understanding and patience while promising them a more "harmonious future".

Update 5/15: The New York Times wrote a great piece describing how many residents took off work or school to rush to internet cafes and catch up on all their months of unread emails.  I believe it!  Read the article here.

Important Note: Reuters has published a misleading article declaring that "China restored full internet access".  When they say "full", they really means that residents of Xinjiang can see what anybody else in China can see - which is censored by what has been termed the "Great Firewall".

Time Line of Internet Restoration

  • July 5th: Riots fill the streets of Urumqi
  • January 20th: International calling capabilities are restored, although at first one had to jump through a few hoops
  • February 10th: Emailing is finally allowed again, albeit only through Sina.com.cn and any users cannot send or receive attachments
  • March 8th: Xinjiang official announces that Xinjiang will "soon be back online" during the annual National People's Congress
  • April 24th: Wang Lequan, leader of the Xinjiang province for over 15 years, is replaced by Zhang Chunxian, former Party leader in Hunan.

About Josh Summers

Josh is a writer, musician and entrepreneur who currently resides in Urumqi, capital of China's western province of Xinjiang. He has been traveling and writing about this region since 2006 and has no plans to stop in the near future.

Leave a Comment

  1. This is surely a good thing. I can’t help but notice that this comes in the midst of the recently resumed U.S.-China human rights dialogue where internet freedom is one of the major topics. It will also surely put new party secretary Zhang Chunxian in a good light as well. I haven’t seen any specific rationale for the change offered yet but these things seem lurking just below the surface. Hopefully things will be clearer after the conclusion of the Xinjiang work conference, but I’m not too optimistic. Anyway, good to see this is finally over.

    [Reply]

  2. Hopefully, it will not be abused to incite violence. US don’t have much leverage preaching China and they will lecture each other for sure.

    [Reply]

  3. Josh, don’t feel a need to tone down this good news according to this directive I see posted by CDT from a so-called “Ministry of Truth Blog” especially since your site is blocked in China.
    http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2010/05/latest-directives-from-the-ministry-of-truth-may-11-may-12-2010/
    News about Internet in Xinjiang must all use draft of media in Xinjiang, do not promote, do not hype, do not follow “hot issues”.
    关于新疆互联网的新闻,一律用新疆媒体的稿子,做到不宣传,不炒作,不跟风。
    The date of this is from 3 days ago (May 11) so along with the news again via CDT that the Great Firewall went through a major upgrade last week, they were probably reliable signs this glad day was coming soon. Somebody needs to hype it up!

    [Reply]

  4. Great news.

    I hope Uyghurs understand that living in peace side by side with other people means connected internet plus many other good things.

    XJ is their land or not had been settled in 1884. The year California and the entire west coast America were not part of USA yet.

    Share the space with other people is going to be Uyghur’s way of life. Like it or not.

    The same way that Mexicans have to share California with other people.

    There is nothing wrong or right in this type situation. The alternatives are always bad.

    [Reply]

    joyce on May 15th, 2010 at 1:48 am

    “XJ is their land or not had been settled in 1884.”

    I believe that it was around 1750 and resettled later.

    [Reply]

    tez on May 15th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    1759 Joyce but it was contested constantly by local Muslims until the end of Yakob Beg’s Islamic sultanate in 1877. His sultanate was established in the period Qing were totally driven out of Xinjiang. Zou Zang Tang’s forces retook the colonial possession after the death of Yakob Beg. 1884 is the date of its declaration as a province I believe off hand.

    Frank sharing is one thing but feeling totally squeezed out is another: sharing is a two way relationship of equal proportion.

    I think overall the internet ban as draconian as it seems was a wise move, not that I am for internet censoring but I think the government’s actions in the long run saved many many Uyghur lives as Han in inner china were mobilizing for a pogrom against the Uyghur. This is also Kaiser Kou’s view.

    The government no doubt also wished to stop Uyghur mobilization within the Autonomous Region and information from Uyghur groups outside the country getting in of course.

    Good to see the people of the Autonomous Region can now have access once again and feel part of the national and international community

    joyce on May 16th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    “I think overall the internet ban as draconian as it seems was a wise move, not that I am for internet censoring but I think the government’s actions in the long run saved many many Uyghur lives as Han in inner china were mobilizing for a pogrom against the Uyghur. This is also Kaiser Kou’s view.”

    I agree with you. The government has been covering up for Uyghur a lot. I read somewhere the rapes in Guangdong were real and the police sent the guys back to Xinjinag without punishment. If no internet lockdown, all the nasty details of the riot would have enraged Chinese further all over the country. Even if they don’t kill like Uyghur, they sure can make hell for Uyghur living in inner China.

    kahraman on May 16th, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I have to disagree regarding the internet ban. There is simply no clear argument in favor of it because it was largely unprescedented. They likely panicked and justified the policy post facto. What evidence is there that nei di Han were organizing a pogrom against Uyghurs? Similarly, where is the proof that these rapes in Shaoguan actually happened? Paradoxically, shutting down the internet, sms and intl. phone could fuel just these types of rumors. Obviously, news of the rioting leaked out anyway and no known incidents occured. I’m sure there was no shortage of netizens in other parts of China ‘scaling the wall’ (翻墙) to see the grisly details in any event. You can’t argue this counterfactual of enraged and rampaging Han.

    tez on May 16th, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Joyce where did you read “somewhere” the rapes in Guangdong were real? Thats not what the official line is: did you just grab that off some nationalist site? Really that is almost an intolerable statement and you as an intelligent person should know better. If you dont back that up you are just as guilty of incitement as any one in China: of spreading false rumours creating ethnic division and hatred. It was just this kind of attitude you display that was the cause of the Urumqi riots- you need to think carefully what you say. I had some academic on another chat page/blog try and tell me people were executed for the Uyghur murders in Guangdong but he also could not provide a link for that statement but offered a blithe I think it was in the NY Times. I didn’t see it there either after looking. If any one does have that link Id be interested in seeing it. Your statement Joyce however isan extremely dangerous one. That now said:

    I do agree that the closure saved a lot of lives. If the ugly Han retribution mobs on the streets of Urumqi were any indication of the situation that was building up and left unchecked the Uyghur population of Urumqi would have been decimated by the sheer weight of numbers and then the Uyghur majority oases would have erupted and many Han would have been killed. I believe the government had to do it.

    Kahraman there may have well been a bit of panic involved; but I could see the frightening situation the authorities were in. That said I also think the closure has been used to further tighten the screws on Uyghur solidarity and to quench free speech; and also to block news of Uyghur mass arrests etc. Ultimately there is danger all around once the genie is let out of the bottle.

    Here is an interview/ excerpt with Kaiser Kuo you may find interesting where he mentions Hans plotting in nei di:

    http://www.securecomputing.net.au/News/174247,interview-inside-a-censored-china.aspx

    Also I think ultimately what freaks a lot of westerners out is that they cant imagine life without the internet any more- their lives are so entwined with it, deprivation is experienced if they cannot access the net. I doubt if shepherds in the Tian Shan Mountains even knew the net was blocked in Urumqi, nor did it matter. Business may have been hampered etc; but that hasn’t been the end of the world. I know there’s no going back, but Life does go on if you pull the computer plug out, and hey it wasn’t that long ago there was a time PCs did not exist.

    kahraman on May 17th, 2010 at 1:49 am

    I do agree that the possibility of violent retribution against Uyghurs was a legitimate concern of authorities. However, I don’t see any hard evidence that mobs were being organized online or that the internet had a special role here. After all, what is to prevent mobs from organizing via phone or by word of mouth. If the underlying social tension remains it will simply flare up under other circumstances. At best this was stopgap measure. And if this was aimed at stopping the spread of violence, it was certainly prolonged beyond necessity. I would also mention that at the time Xinjiang was and is flooded with enough security personnel (30,000) that significant violence was really not possible; curfews were also enforced, and patrols enacted. Unless the Xinjiang authorities are very weak or widely perceived as illegitimate, this would seem more than sufficient.

    It also bears mentioning that part of the communication blackout also involved telphones (intl. and domestic) and sms. Chinese love their cell phones; I imagine even shepherds were pissed about this.

    It is possible that you are correct but I will be skeptical until further information comes to light. In the interim, I am curious what the economic losses of the blackout were and how that figures into the justification.

    Akihiro on May 17th, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Though I am not very familiar with the real actual happening in Guangdong province regarding the Uyghur and the Han conflict…

    But according to some of the Han Chinese nationals that ever worked in my countries before… they did ever feedback to me some years ago that they are not satisfy with certain of their CCP policies… which, their CCP care too much for the other ethnic groups that they neglected the Han Chinese.
    Lot of benefits are given to the other ethnic races beside the Han… when even sometimes punishment are being very lenient to them when they committed crime… but as compare to them the Han Chinese, there will always be heavy punishment for the Han even they committed the same crime.

    So in the way I am quite believe about the news that you said the CCP covered up for the Uyghurs and some of them are sent back to Xinjiang without punishment.

  5. I can’t believe that the Chinese government is so out of control that they do this to their own citizens. All this politicians are a shame to this world!

    [Reply]

    joyce on May 16th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Where have you been? It was people out of control. The government has been trying to stop ethnic violences. I believe that some Chinese are not ready for freedom.

    [Reply]

    tez on May 16th, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Obviously You are though Joyce?

  6. So you are justifying murder here on the basis of a rumour now Joyce. Your mind amazes me!

    “But there were more than one incident that women were dragged into to Uyghur rooms…”

    You yourself still post all of these ‘stories’ without backing them up.

    I too have “heard” of the former Hui problems. But your mixing everything up here. How are your synapses by the way? I mean the neurotransmitters of your mind?

    “The most disturbing to me about the riot is the nature of the hate.”

    Yet you seem to think the murder of Uyghurs in Guangdong whether guilty or not was kind of OK??????

    [Reply]

    joyce on May 18th, 2010 at 2:48 am

    @tez

    We do not really know the truth and I simply gave more credit to the nonlocal report before Xinjiang riot because it had not turned into an international incident yet.

    There were other minority groups there, why did one disgruntled employee single Uyghur out to rumor? The report claimed more than one incidents.

    I never said that Hui had problems and I simply pointed out that the shutdown could have prevented people from outside Xinjiang to join the fight like what happened before. Han are more timid than Hui even though they are pretty much the same genetically. In Tibet riot, Hui’s retribution was immediate on the ground, at least some witnesses observed.

    I never said that beating Uyghur dead in Guangdong was justified and I just implied that the government should enforce the law regardless the ethnicity and the mob justice could have been avoided.

    No one in his right mind should equate the fighting among men in Guangdong to what Uyghur thugs did in Xinjiang. I for one can never forgive any men attacking and killing unarmed women, period.

    [Reply]

    kahraman on May 18th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Your generalizations, leaps of logic and contradictions are really too much. You’re basically asking others to believe your arguments through a kind of faith in your own rash judgements.

    joyce on May 18th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Why do you believe the government version of the cause of Guangdong mob violence, especially after the riot in Xijiang?

    kahraman on May 19th, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Honestly, there is no independent verification of what incited the Shaoguan incident either. But I find it difficult to believe that the police there would simply let known rapists walk scot free and send them on their way. That’s too serious a crime for police to ignore.

    And I don’t necessarily think the Chinese government is always wrong, it simply seems rare that they provide sound evidence to back up their claims.

    tez on May 19th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    @kahraman

    Basically according to Chinese law kahraman if Joyce was in china now she would be arrested for two things:

    1, Spreading false rumours on the interet
    2. Inciting racial hatred

    both extremely serious in the present climate

    Akihiro on May 18th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Yes joyce,

    Since some may think that news from the mainland of China may not be that credible… so definitely news from Hong Kong will be more trustable to them…
    As for [edited], I think words from her are even more unbelievable as I know that she was already being famous for as a swindler since many years ago when she even dared to cheat cash properties from certain Hui ethnic Mosques.

    I read from my country local news that there are actually many Han Chinese feels very displeased of their CCP arrangement about the crashed in Guangdong. The CCP took very good care of the Uyghurs victims when some of them are totally provided with free medical care and social workers there to comfort the Uyghurs victims… while the Han there didn’t benefit that much welfares at all.
    As I did mentioned before that it’s actually part of the CCP policies to encourage more Han Chinese private sectors to employ other ethnic workers like the Uyghur…
    But due to extra expenses of providing the Uyghur with Muslim food, special dormitories, and translators…. and yet most of these Uyghur workers do not stay long in their job and return to Xinjiang after just a few months, and so the Han employers have to always compensate for all their lost…
    Moreover maybe due to differences of cultures, some Han employers may feel that Uyghur are being very lazy and slow…
    These are some of the reasons why most Han employer refuse to employ Uyghur worker… and all these have indirectly becoming a discrimination among the Han and the Uyghur.
    I believe these are also some of the main reason for accusation of discrimination problem in Xinjiang itself. And so in the end… everyone started pointing and accusing the CCP for discrimination instead.

    According to my Han Chinese friends from Hainan province where ethnic Li is one of the largest groups of minorities in Hainan… and they are being allow to carry sharp edges weapon or knife with them where ever they are… when it will consider to be an offend for the Han to do the same thing.
    So that’s why some of my Chinese friends are always displeased with their CCP that in certain ways, they care too much for the other ethnic groups when compare to Han.

    After I saw an uncensored news media from the web about the Xinjiang July riot, showing all the Han Chinese dead bodies lying everywhere on the street… I really feel extremely sad, when some of the ladies victims were even nicely dressed and makeup when they died… maybe they were having a shopping trip in the city, but never they will expect such a disaster will happen to them that they won’t be able to see their love one anymore. It really hurt me a lot seeing this entire scene because I am a family man too with wife and kids. Just imagine such an incident happened to the city in America, which cause by other ethnic race where all the white are the victims. How would the west feel about it?

    I did comment in other column that, in the ways I understand the move by the CCP of shutting down the network in Xinjiang, but I was then being accused as a “50 cents army” by others (and I only realize the real meaning of that “term” later on)… haha!

    tez on May 18th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    and what would your chinese ‘friends’ from Hainan do with those sharp point knifes Ahiriko, if they were allowed to carry them?

    Li and Uyghur etc use them in their daily lives for many purposes; but its been long time now Uyghur are forbidden to do so- such discrimination, oh, the poor Han. Im beginning to believe you are actually not Japanese btw, sorry to say. Your second language English is unlike that of any Japanese I know. Very tell-tale.

    joyce on May 18th, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    @tez

    Han should be allowed to carry knifes too for self-protection, especially if the government can not protect them. I will personally not hesitate to use it if my life is on the line. If my sister’s whole family were wiped out and I will spend the rest of my life to hunt down the perpetrator if the government is not doing it.

    kahraman on May 19th, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Based on all the school attacks throughout China recently (all committed by Han), it doesn’t exactly seem there is much importance attached to preventing Han or anyone else from carrying knives or anything else whenever and wherever they want even if it is unlawful.

    kahraman on May 19th, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Akihiro: international man of mystery. Japanese by ethnicity, educated abroad (though not in an English speaking country like many japanese), Catholic, Han nationalist, and a defender of the Chinese Communist Party who enjoys discussing Xinjiang and Uyghurs. Have you considered auditioning for those Dos Equis beer commercials about the most interesting man in the world?

    tez on May 19th, 2010 at 9:15 am

    God point.

  7. “No one in his right mind should equate the fighting among men in Guangdong to what Uyghur thugs did in Xinjiang. I for one can never forgive any men attacking and killing unarmed women, period.”

    Murder is murder Joyce. It is not gender biased. Are You?

    I do not want to provoke you or insult you but to be honest by your statements I find you to be an unbalanced, dangerous person.

    Your attitudes are clearly and patently racist and hateful and your reasoning inverted and poisonous.

    Such attitudes displayed by you are THE root cause of ethnic disharmony in China.

    Of course in your deluded state you somehow believe you are enlightened and above ordinary Chinese and stupid westerners and in particular, Males. Lets not speak about the scum Uyghur you hate and belittle and vilify at every opportunity.

    You are extremely prejudiced and hypocritical and overall a blind instigator of racial hatred and division.

    Your attitudes quite frankly make me sick.

    I will not be posting any more replies to you.

    [Reply]

    Akihiro on May 18th, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    tez

    It’s up to you to think whether I am Japanese or a Chinese… I don’t mind, (though some people may doesn’t like Japanese)
    Many may think that I am a Chinese especially when I speak out for China.
    As I said there are thousands and millions of different kind of personalities…
    And deep in my heart, I really don’t mind at all when people regard me as a Chinese citizen. We look the same.

    By the way just a little intro on myself is that though I am Japanese originally, but I don’t stay and educate in Japan in most of my entire life (The rest will be my personal info)… which can also say that I don’t think in the way as other Japanese think and… I may don’t speak English as how others Japanese speak. (Though my command of English maybe quite bad):)

    [Reply]

    tez on May 18th, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I didnt say your command of…was quite bad. i said it didnt sound simiilar to…

    joyce on May 18th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    @tez,

    Uyghur already vilified themselves by what they did in Xinjiang, no help needed!

    Murder is murder. Uyghur killed in Guangdong were because of the failure of the government treating all ethnicities equally. Non Uyghur killed in Xinjiang were because of they were not Uyghur. Your accusation of “racial hatred” of me is most hypocritical.

    Any men killing women and children in street are ultimate losers to me personally and I am not alone, Akihiro here is obviously sharing my view and he is obviously a man.

    It is irreverent whether Akihiro is Chinese here. Why can not non Chinese speak out for Chinese? He might well be one of the victims in Xinjiang street that day, Japanese, Han or Hui because they look similar.

    You are full of yourselves; who cares you reply my post or not? Not me.

    [Reply]

    kahraman on May 19th, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Uyghurs (nor Han)are not a monolithic group, yet you continue to blame them collectively. 99.999% of Uyghurs had no direct involvement in the Urumqi riots you know. You do strike me as having it in for them…..

    You still make unsubstantiated accusations about both events in Shaoguan and Urumqi. You can’t make the types of judgements your making without a factual basis. Otherwise you’re just spouting gibberish. It doesn’t seem facts are of interest to you….they get in the way of your conclusions.

    joyce on May 19th, 2010 at 2:32 am

    @tez,

    Do not make me a male hater for I am married to a man. Being a feminist does not stop me despising any men killing women and children, especial because of their ethnicities,
    That showed the extreme racial hatred of Uyghur to non Uyghur.

    [Reply]

  8. There were a lot reports about Xinjiang riot from vast different Medias on ESWN. I believe in the report of HK, BEFORE the riot, about the fighting in Guangdong.

    The government arranged the deal with the toy factory for the poor of minority groups, Uyghur, Miao and Hui. The monthly salary was as much as what would be the yearly income. She called it kidnapping and she sure lied more than the government. For every poor Uyghur, I am sure that there are a few Han just as poor and they would like the government help them too.

    Other minority groups, “Wai Di Ren” to the local, seemed to make no trouble. But there were more than one incident that women were dragged into to Uyghur rooms, and then nothing was done about it. The relatives of the women organized the attack on Uyghur.

    The government of course would spin the story to cover up its incompetence which leads to the messes from Guangdong to Xinjiang. Is not it more “harmonious” that all the messes were caused by the rumor of one disgruntled ex-employee?

    The government shut down internet probably because the level of hate was high before the riot and higher after the riot. It was too much to “harmonize”. Initially, the government listed one Hui was killed, but the witness could tell that more relatives of Hui went to claim bodies. In previous riot between Han and Hui villages, Hui used cell phones to get 17 bus loads of men from outside and some even flew in. At least, Hui appreciated that the government sent enough troop to circle the village to protect them, not “crack down”. Hui have strong solidarity through the religion and they might send train loads of men to Xinjiang if they were targeted too.

    The most disturbing to me about the riot is the nature of the hate. In most wars, you do not see that children, women and elders were the targets, especially pregnant women cut up or thrown down the overpass. Her comment of “the yellow skinned” explained it well, in my opinion.

    [Reply]

  9. Based on all the school attacks throughout China recently (all committed by Han), it doesn’t exactly seem there is much importance attached to preventing Han or anyone else from carrying knives or anything else whenever and wherever they want even if it is unlawful.

    [Reply]

    joyce on May 20th, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    You are right that nothing can stop monsters to kill. People do have the tendency to act on the impulse when weapons are within their reach at the moment.

    [Reply]