For about an hour on Thursday, users of the internet in China were blocked from using foreign websites. The incident was unexplained and sparked significant speculation that authorities in the country may censor the net. Users of internet in China were cut off from using all websites that were from outside China.
The so-called “Great Firewall,” is already in place blocking a number of sites that are hosted in other countries, however users in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities in China reported all foreign sites were inaccessible.
Meanwhile, users in places such as Hong Kong, which forms part of China, but is governed by a different system, does not have the same censorship as Beijing. Those users said they could not access sites that were operated on the mainland of China.
A number of people believe the problem is purely a technical problem. Some suggested that the strong earthquake yesterday had damaged a cable under the seas and disrupted service. A tremor hit in 2007 and caused a major cable to slow down overseas access for months.
China has cables that run from three different points and access can easily be cutoff both by accident and intentionally. Internet in the U.S. and the UK has a number of more gateways in which to have access to the internet.
People in chat rooms were making comments that China had put up another Great Wall and that it was not just a coincidence that the problem on Thursday occurred amid rumors that a crackdown from the government was in the works.