Fans help teams beat China’s Twitter block

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In the past year F1 fans have enjoyed increased coverage of the sport on Twitter from F1 teams and media outlets posting live updates from the races.

But that service could be disrupted this weekend as China blocks its citizens from accessing Twitter.

China’s notoriously strict regime of internet censorship, dubbed the ‘Great Firewall of China’, was extended to include Twitter late last year. Access to other social networking sites has also been restricted to make it harder for organisations that are critical of the government to organise.

Several F1 people on Twitter have already reported difficulty accessing the site to send updates. However it seems there are ways around the block and some F1 fans in China are already getting word to F1 personnel such as Karun Chandhok, who Tweeted this earlier today:

Three very sweet fans were waiting at the airport for me with instructions on how to use Twitter in China! Unbelievable…
Karun Chandhok

This a minor inconvenience for the F1 teams and fans is a far more serious matter for the people of China. Twitter is just one of many many sites they are denied access to, including many which promoting human rights and freedoms.

Incidentally, to the best of my knowledge F1 Fanatic is visible in China. I have heard from fans in the country and site traffic shows visitors coming from China.

Find F1 people to follow on the F1 Twitter directory

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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59 comments on “Fans help teams beat China’s Twitter block”

  1. i guess F1F does not incite action against the regime… but an earlier article about which races should tumble might put you on the black list Keith, if the Chinese GP turns out to be the one most elected to be dropped…

  2. It would be easy to have a rant at this situation but I’ll spare you all and just say I find that very sweet and slightly inspiring that there are people willing to help and they know how to get round some of the censorship.

  3. Apparently there’s a group of fans offering help to F1 people at the airport… see my retweets. Hope they can carry on and don’t get trouble for doing so.

    1. Actually that thought crossed my mind too, they are risking a fair bit, I think we should appreciate what they are actual doing…..

  4. Its bad we won’t be able to get update from the F1 drivers & even in live feed we won’t be able to get in touch with trackside analysis.

  5. Yeah I’m a Chinese.

    In fact everyone in China could use some very simple skills to bypass the G.F.W.(Great FireWall). I just simply edited hosts file and enabled ipv6 then I could visit a few blocked sites like Youtube and Blogspot. Accessing Twitter is even easier.

    But the situation is getting worse every day. More and more sites are getting blocked and bypassing the G.F.W. is getting more difficult day by day.

    Luckily F1F is completely accessible in China all the time…

    1. wow, that must be so anoying, i think living in a place like that would drive me nuts, good to hear the chinese fans out though :)

  6. Being as paranoid as I am about totalitarian governments, I wouldn’t be surprised if these were not “sweet fans”, government plants who direct the F1 press to “a way around the censorship”, only to be guided to a channel that is strictly monitored and controlled.

    Just because I’m paranoid,
    Doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me

    1. Very cynical! Though you may well be right

    2. It might be a strictly controlled channel, but if the Chinese organisers have done their work correctly, everything going through the teams’ Twitter feeds will be either neutral or pro-China anyway. It doesn’t help the people who live in China on a day-to-day basis much, but for the specific purpose of getting information back on events at the race weekend, a monitored/controlled feed is substantially better than none at all.

    3. Ah ha! Got ya. I’m actually “BeijingChris” and this whole time I’ve been monitoring your posts. We will be coming heavily armed to your home shortly.

  7. Sorry Keith, I’ve now written the word “Democracy” which unfortunately means F1F will now be banned from China….


  8. China is a scary country. I watched a documentary recently on the Tianamen Square massacre, which I didn’t know too much about. It’s quite demoralising that they were prepared to kill so many innocent people to keep control of their country. Compared to stuff like that, the internet restrictions are just laughable really

    1. ” Compared to stuff like that, the internet restrictions are just laughable really”
      Agree that the loss of human life was tragic and really puts it into perspective but at the same time the more subtle control of the internet, TV and propaganda is almost as dangerous and means things are unlikely to change for a long while. It helps establish and support such acts and is a great source of power. I think I’ll stop prattling on now but I couldn’t imagine living in such an environment.

    2. The Tiananmen Square Massacre isn’t even the worst of it Ned. I’m no history scholar but the Chinese Communist party appear to have killed tens of millions of their people over the years.

      The Four Worst Political Movements of The Chinese Communist Party

      1. Something tells me, that maybe, just maybe that site isn’t available in China…

        But I’ve been wrong before…
        Your thoughts?

      2. About 11 million actually.

    3. and the us and europe, close their eyes, to sell their products in the huge market. Then the invasion of irak by the us, we suck for sure.

      1. We may suck, but at least we don’t suck as badly as China, that is one messed up country

      2. It’s worse than that mate, European and American companies are moving jobs to China to take advantage of their lower wages, employee benefits, working conditions as well as lower health & safety and environmental regulations. They’re then selling products back to the people they’ve sacked in their home countries at a slightly reduced price and then the executives and shareholders pocket the rest as increased profits.

        This means you’re not only having to pay for the products you buy, you’re also having to pay extra taxes to provide unemployment benefits to the people that have been made redundant, put up with a lower quality product and deal with the astounding levels of pollution that results from shipping all of those goods around the world.

        It’s all OK though because the owners of these companies pay huge amounts of money to our politicians in the form of election donations, lobbying fees and the many directorships that most of our politicians have.

        Our governments then have the audacity to start wars with countries they don’t like, even when there’s no moral, strategic or humanitarian benefit, safe in the knowledge that it isn’t their children going off to die and with the understanding that international laws and The Hague are just for those countries that aren’t permanent members of the UN Security Council.

        So China is good while Iran is bad, when the Russians use extreme measures against Chechen rebels it makes them an authoritarian regime but when we commit war crimes such as the near annihilation of Fallujah we’re just doing our best to promote democracy.

        The hypocrisy is astounding, sadly this is the way it has always been.

        There is another way, you can read more about it here:

        (Apologies for the extensive ranting, I’ll try to keep it to a minimum from now on guys)

        1. Thanks Beneboy for the info and link. Much appreciated

        2. It’s much more complicated, twisted and uglier that that mate. Trust me, in order to maintain your sanity, you need to keep away from getting into understanding that stuff. Only doom knows where we all are headed, but while we’re alive and fortunate enough to live in one of the better countries (living wise), lets make the most of it and be thankful. Power keepers have messed it up to awful levels and there’s only as much we can do about it. Millions like us, mean nothing.

          Ok, enough of that depressing garbage. FP1 starts in just over 2 hours!

  9. Hatham Al-Shabibi
    13th April 2010, 15:52

    @James_MC- watch the site get banned now because of your comment. ;)

    Anyway, in my opinion China is only going to hurt themselves. There is a growing problem of plaigarism there because high profile people can’t access “knowledge” on the internet. F1 is a global sport, trying to make its presence known on that side of the world (sorry I’m in the USA), and if anything F1’s presence is a GOOD thing for China.

  10. Mark Hitchcock
    13th April 2010, 16:11

    This is why F1 should never have gone to China in the first place (well, not this exactly but the human rights abuses in general).
    But I guess money talks louder than morals.

    1. Agree entirely with you Mark.

    2. i agree, but tell that to bernie, he’ll laugh so hard, he may even die.

      1. ^^^^^quote of the day plz Keith

    3. Exactly. Bernie is so greedy he could overlook anything for a nice cheque

      1. that’s no different to any western society. i don’t choose to do business with china, the choice has been made for me.

  11. AH –you sid it – money talks louder than morals+ max+ bernie involved. We have to be green but money…….

  12. It’s hardly just F1 that deals with China, my UK government and that of the US are balls deep there too.

  13. Wow,wow,wow. So many china haters!
    Intenet sensorship has its positive aspect, it at least blocks child pornography. So many people in western countries like to criticise Chinese. Even some guys are still watching Tian An Men Square which happened in 1989! Haha, today is 2010,mate. Give you some advices, look after your child, don’t let them get abused by your priest,or something else.
    Enjoy. I’m Chinese, i am enjoying my life. If you don’t believe, and just believe your western media, ok, work hard, make a trip, visit Shanghai, see and feel everything by your own eyes and heart. Don’t always to say ridiculous things ,like China kills tens of thounds people every year. Hey, guys, it’s really laughable. It just shows somebody here has limited knowledge and very naive.

    1. We’re not China haters, there is a world of difference between making legitimate criticism of a regime and its actions and hating an entire nation.

      If you read my comment above you’ll realise that we criticise our own governments just as much, in my case more, than we do the governments of other nations. This doesn’t mean I hate the UK or China or America or any other nation whose government I criticise.

      1. Come on Mark, that was a ridiculous comment. Tianamen Square was 20 years ago so it doesn’t matter anymore? Wrong. Censorship blocks child pornography? Mabye it does, but I’m certain that isn’t why the ‘firewall’ exists.

        You’re enjoying your life? Fine, good for you. But it certainly doesn’t mean that everyone else in China is, and you certainly shouldn’t turn a blind eye to their suffering

      2. I’m Chinese too but I can take some criticism. Most mainland Chinese can’t. Reason – the face.

    2. I’m sorry Mark, I’m probably not in a place to criticise and I certainly meant no offence but I fail to see what child pornography etc has to do with anything. Maybe there are certain positives to censorship but I can’t agree with the principal at all; it is controlling and takes away a basic right to freedom and knowledge. I say this about the UK and its controlling laws and it is no where near the scale of China.
      I don’t by any means hate China, I’m also aware there is a cultural difference which means I’m bound to preach the way of life I have been brought up into also but clearly not everyone is happy in China.
      To get back on topic, there was some controversy that China had the Olympics -I know that is a much bigger global platform and a massive ceremony-but I was surprised more wasn’t said regarding F1.

      1. Ok, I understand. I am just surprised that somebody has a very extrem view of China or Chinese. I think everyone is patriot. And you can understand my reaction. I admit that some words what I ‘ve written may hurt . I say sorry.

        1. I understand and it was actually nice and insightful to hear from someone who lives in China esp from someone who holds a different view and is experiencing it all first hand. I like a debate! :)

    3. I want to make something absolutely clear, I am not a China hater, I am not a hater of the Chinese people, If it helps, I have many friends who are overseas students from China, I find Chinese people to be mostly the same as everyone else, friendly and helpful. The country itself, has the potential to be a true world leader.

      But, I hold a deep resentment towards the Chinese government, From the blatant and overwhelming censorship to the incredibly prevalent repression of various groups of people, From the denial of basic human rights of it’s own people to the international pressure it puts on countries to not recognise sovereignty of countries like Tibet and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
      The CCP is a totalitarian gathering who uses it’s powers not to improve the prosperity of it’s people, nor even to implement the ideals of communism (of which China fails to even come close to resembling) but to protect and empower itself.

      I am happy you enjoy your life, And I make a point of disbelief in most things I read, but the Chinese government and what it choses to impose is something I truly hate.

      This is a F1 blog right?

      1. I agree completely. I don’t deny I’m a China hater, but it’s the government I hate, NOT the people

        1. After writing that I regretted it, I realised that maybe this isn’t the place to demonstrate this particular opinion…

          1. Mabye not, but it has to be said somewhere. This may be an F1 site but it doesn’t mean comments on anything other than F1 are a waste of space

    4. You must be out of your mind to suggest that the Great Firewall is in place to stop child pornography! I’m totally confident that you know what the Chinese gov wants, it wants to keep abusing human rights, it wants to continue barbaric methods of ruling a country by restricting its people from the rest of the world in fear of an uproar. And you of all people, being Chinese, support those ways? You support the abuse of your own people? None of us here hate China, we just hate the way its being ruled. Dictatorship is not tolerable anywhere in the world, as simple as that. Millions of people were killed in 1989, which was 20 years ago, so its worthless now?
      Listen to yourself mate!

  14. See some videos about Shanghai/China from a UK guy :
    Piers Morgan

    6 Parts. Hope you guys get some objective views

    1. Piers Morgan, the man who used faked photo’s of British soldiers abusing foreigners ?

      1. Piers Morgan is not worth listening to whatever he talks about.

    2. 好一个五毛党,英文水平不错。

  15. Good. Anything that gets round their Great Firewall of wool-over-the-eyes is a good thing.

  16. I love how China calls themselves Communist, but yet there is no such thing as true communism.

  17. I admire China for several things, including their history and their ability to get things going in a certain direction when the top people realize it needs to be done.
    So no China hater here. I know several people from China and even products made in China do not have to be badly made, just our shop keepers only buy the cheapes of cheap there so it is basically lowest quality they get away with.

    But i strongly dissaprove of the totalitarian suppression of groups of the population, bad standards in human rights handling and government influence on information supplied by media and censorism of information.

    So Hooray for trying to get at least the F1 community free to use Twitter there.

  18. Nice statement: If all the bad countries get a Formula 1 race, this will improve the country? So we should get a race in Moscow and in New York. Now I know why we don’t have a race in Zandvoort any more?
    Dutch are such nice people they don’t deserve a grand prix.

  19. Bring Bourdais Back
    14th April 2010, 12:30

    Hi Keith

    I’m the F1 commentator for Chinese television broacasting.
    Just want to inform you that your site is totally OK for the local web viewer now. (and I guess I contributed some site traffic from China either)

    Anyway, thx for your useful infomation and good to see a lot of interesting analysis.

    One of my favorate F1 blogs for sure

  20. For those who don’t know much about the ‘Great Firewall of China’, heres a video which pretty much explains it in simple detail which was recently aired here in Australia.

  21. I am just a high school kid, but I lived in Republic of China(Taiwan) for 11 years, Shanghai, China for two years and I am now living in the U.S, and still a Malaysian citizen. I started to watch Formula1 since I was 7 years old. I moved to Shanghai when I was 11, and it really isn’t that bad. In Taiwan, it is sometimes even worse. We never get enough informations about China, and most of them are bad informations. Teachers actually told us how evil China is. The month before we move to China, almost everyone told me to becareful there. They all thought China is an evil country. That also happens in the western world. People get bad infromations about China more than good ones. That is probably why people have misconceptions.

  22. Just trying to say. In US and Taiwan, we basically have to pay extra money for the TV to get the channels that broadcasts F1. But in China, the basic channels includes at least CCTV5, which broadcasts F1 in live everytime. In Shanghai, I also have local channels, so there are two channels that has F1. At least mine is all free in China, but we pay $140 for 200 that includes Speed TV. And $140 is the cheapest package that includes Speed.

  23. F1 Fanatic works the same as other country in China. I have been using this alot when I was in China, and also suggested to my friends. Important sites that are blocked in China is Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Good thing is Skype,MSN,and Yahoo messenger still works, and these are probably more important the ones that are blocked. And they also have their own systems that works almost like MSN and have their own blogs.

    In school, we still learn those wrong and evil stuff that the government had done. Its not like no one knows it on China.

    At least parts of China is just like what I just said. People have to know that the government started late compare to the others. They are also trying hard to catch up all other countries. The reason why I am saying this, is because I saw a lot of critisizing. I am just trying to let you guys know.

  24. Well I think it’s fine to have a F1 race in China. It would be awesome to have a few hundred million new F1 Fanatic fans from China.Remember that Honda and Toyota were in as factory teams at that time and they sell a lot of cars in China. Most of us view F1 as racing… not as an advertising campaign, but that’s how the sponsors see it. I’m sure that certain sponsors had a hand in choosing a Chinese spot on the calendar.

    Anyway I’ve lived in Asia a long time and China is changing. Maybe not as fast as some would like but it’s happening.

    Cheers, Alex

  25. i can see your site here Keith , i can tweet with my VPN i use for BBC in Australia but my VPN does not work on my iPhone in china though it will work on the iPhone in other countries.

  26. I’m sure China has observed very closely the effect twitter can have surrounding the recent Iranian elections and are taking pre-emtive precautions. After all F1 must be subversive and bourgious as its western and enjoyable lol…

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