As an 18-year-old student with an interest in the Internet, Zhu Nan had been itching to say something about the country’s pervasive online censorship system, widely known here as the Great Firewall.
When China’s censors began blocking access to the popular photo-sharing site Flickr, Mr. Zhu felt the moment had come. Writing on his blog last year, the student, who is now a freshman at a university in this city, questioned the rationale for Internet restrictions, and in subsequent posts, began passing along tips on how to evade them.
“Officials in our country claimed that Internet censorship is done according to the law,” Mr. Zhu wrote. “If so, why not let people know about this legal project, and why, instead, ban the Web sites that publicize and examine those legal policies? If you’re determined to do this, you shouldn’t be afraid of criticism.”
For some of the anticensorship activists, creating a broader awareness of censorship is itself a victory. “If you don’t know what’s on top of you, than you won’t fight back against it,” said Li Xieheng, a blogger who wrote a program he named Gladder, meaning Great Ladder, to help users of the Firefox browser overcome Great Firewall restrictions. “It’s just like many people not feeling that China isn’t free. They’re not aware of it and feel things are natural here, but that’s just the power of media control.”