Archive:Wikipedia/Golden Shield Project

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This article is part of Wikipedia's coverage of Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China and was archived in 2008; the current version is here. The information is reproduced here under GFDL solely as a means of explaining background issues behind the blocking of various sites, such as Uncyclopedia and Wikipedia in various languages, for users in communist China. While the issues are ongoing, specific lists of blocked sites may change over time.

The Golden Shield Project (金盾工程, jīndùn gōngchéng), sometimes referred to as the Great Firewall of China, is a censorship and surveillance project operated by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) of the People's Republic of China. The project started in 1998 and began operations in November of 2003.


In 1998 the China Communist party feared the China Democracy Party (CDP) would breed a powerful new network that the party elites might not be able to control.[1] The CDP was immediately banned followed by arrests and imprisonment.[2] That same year the Golden Shield project was started. The first part of the project lasted eight years, completing in 2006. The second part began in 2006. It will be finished in 2008. According to China Central Television (CCTV), up to 2002, the preliminary work of the Golden Shield Project cost US$800 million (equivalent to RMB 6.4 billion, or €650 million).[3]

On 6 December 2002, 300 people in charge of the Golden Shield project from 31 provinces and cities throughout China participated in a four-day inaugural “Comprehensive Exhibition on Chinese Information System”. At the exhibition, many western high-tech products including Internet security, video monitoring and human face recognition, were purchased. It is estimated that around 30,000 police are employed in this gigantic project.[4]

It has been nicknamed the Great Firewall of China in reference to its role as a network firewall and to the ancient Great Wall of China. A major part of the project includes the ability to block content by preventing IP addresses from being routed through and consists of standard firewall and proxy servers at the Internet gateways. The system also selectively engages in DNS poisoning when particular sites are requested. The government does not appear to be systematically examining Internet content, as this appears to be technically impractical.[5]

The first part of the project passed the national inspection on November 16, 2006 in Beijing.

Chinese officials told internet providers to prepare to unblock access from certain internet cafés, access jacks in hotel rooms and conference centers where foreigners were expected to work or stay during the Olympic Games.[6]


In September 2002, Li Runsen, the technology director at MPS and member of the Golden Shield leadership, further explained this broad definition to thousands of police nationwide at a meeting in Beijing called “Information Technology for China’s Public Security”.

In October 2001, Greg Walton of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development published a report; he wrote:

Old style censorship is being replaced with a massive, ubiquitous architecture of surveillance: the Golden Shield. Ultimately, the aim is to integrate a gigantic online database with an all-encompassing surveillance network – incorporating speech and face recognition, closed-circuit television, smart cards, credit records, and Internet surveillance technologies.[7]

In July 2007, authorities intensified the "monitoring and control" of The Great Firewall, causing email disruption, in anticipation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting scheduled for August 2007.[8]

Some commonly-used methods for censoring are:[9]

  • IP blocking. The access to a certain IP address is denied. If the target Web site is hosted in a shared hosting server, all Web sites on the same server will be blocked. This affects all IP protocols (mostly TCP) such as HTTP, FTP or POP. A typical circumvention method is to find proxies that have access to the target Web sites, but proxies may be jammed or blocked, and some Web sites such as Wikipedia also block proxies from editing articles. Some large Web sites such as Google allocated additional IP addresses to circumvent the block, but later the block was extended to cover the new addresses.
  • DNS filtering and redirection. Don't resolve domain names, or return incorrect IP addresses. This affects all IP protocols such as HTTP, FTP or POP. A typical circumvention method is to find a domain name server that resolves domain names correctly, but domain name servers are subject to blockage as well, especially IP blocking. Another workaround is to bypass DNS if the IP address is obtainable from other sources and is not blocked. Examples are modifying the Hosts file or typing the IP address instead of the domain name in a Web browser.
  • URL filtering. Scan the requested Uniform Resource Locator (URL) string for target keywords regardless of the domain name specified in the URL. This affects the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Typical circumvention methods are to use escaped characters in the URL, or to use encrypted protocols such as VPN and SSL.[10]
  • Packet filtering. Terminate TCP packet transmissions when a certain number of controversial keywords are detected. This affects all TCP protocols such as HTTP, FTP or POP, but Search engine pages are more likely to be censored. Typical circumvention methods are to use encrypted protocols such as VPN and SSL, to escape the HTML content, or reducing the TCP/IP stack's MTU, thus reducing the amount of text contained in a given packet.
  • Connection reset. If a previous TCP connection is blocked by the filter, future connection attempts from both sides will also be blocked for up to 30 minutes. Depending on the location of the block, other users or Web sites may be also blocked if the communications are routed to the location of the block. A circumvention method is to ignore the reset packet sent by the firewall.[11]

Censored content[edit]

See List of websites blocked in the People's Republic of China

While search results appear to be unfiltered, if the user clicks on a censored page it will not display. Mainland Chinese Internet censorship programs have censored Web sites that include (among other things):

Blocked Web sites are indexed to a lesser degree, if at all, by some Chinese search engines, such as Baidu and Google China. This sometimes has considerable impact on search results.[14]

According to The New York Times, Google has set up computer systems inside China that try to access Web sites outside the country. If a site is inaccessible, then it is added to Google China's blacklist.[15] However, once unblocked, the Web sites will be reindexed.


  • Using a proxy server outside China
  • Companies can establish regional Web sites within China. This prevents their content from going through the Great Fire Wall of China; however, it requires companies to apply for local ICP licenses.
  • The Great Firewall cannot filter secure traffic, such as traffic sent over virtual private network connections.
  • Onion routing, such as Tor, can be used.
  • Freegate is a program that takes advantage of a number of open proxies for bypassing firewalls; it can be used as well.


Certain sites have begun to be unblocked, including:

  • The English language BBC Website, (but not the Chinese-language Website).[16]
  • YouTube [17]
  •, including Chinese-language edition.[18].
  • Social websites and free web hosting sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and
  • Some news sites such as CNN and NBC.



See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. Goldman, Merle Goldman. Gu, Edward X. [2004] (2004). Chinese Intellectuals between State and Market. Routledge publishing. ISBN 0415325978
  2. Goldsmith, Jack L.; Wu, Tim; Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of Borderless World; Oxford University; 2006 ISBN 01895152662
  3. 金盾工程前期耗8亿美元 建全国性监视系统
  4. 首屆「2002年中國大型機構信息化展覽會」全國31省市金盾工程領導雲集
  5. War of the words, wp:The Guardian
  6. The Connection Has Been Reset
  7. China's Golden Shield: Corporations and the Development of Surveillance Technology in the People's Republic of China
  8. China censors blamed for email chaos, Reuters, July 18, 2007
  9. Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China.
  10. For an example, see wp:Wikipedia:Advice to users using Tor to bypass the Great Firewall
  12. China's media censorship rattling world image Marquand, Robert 2006-02-04 Christian Science Monitor
  13. returns for via Beijing, China or Shanghai, China; "Status: Empty reply from server."
  14. controlling information: you can't get there from here -- filtering searches, The tank man, Frontline (
  15. Google's China Problem (and China's Google Problem), NY Times magazine, Apr 23, 2006, p8
  16. BBC News Article on the Unblocking of iteself
  17. China Citizens Comment on the Unblocking, one mentions YouTube is also Free to access
  18. A page on Chinese Wikipedia which is for visitors to report how/from where/via which ISP they can access Wikipedia