If you were taking advantage of Chinese characters to write long, expressive Tweets and you happen to be a Chinese citizen, the jig’s up. The Chinese government has blocked access to Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and multiple other Web 2.0 sites – including all WordPress and Blogger blogs. (So if you live in China, you’re most likely not reading this.)
The general guess is that these sites are blocked in order to minimize online chatter in Mainland China about the Tianemens Square Massacre (or “June Fourth Incident,” as you will), which occurred 20 years ago on June 4th.
Interestingly, for the past couple weeks there have consistently been multiple hits on this blog’s old Beijing Olympics post, for no apparent reason. Coincidence? Hmm.
As far as we know, CafePress is not blocked in China. According to someone we know who is currently traveling in Mainland China, we are blocked in China. That being said, you still probably definitely don’t want to wear your “Free Tibet” T-shirt if you’re planning a trip to China – even if you wear it with the same apathy or sheer cluelessness with which so many hipsters sport a Che T-shirt.
Because while unfettered self-expression and the “get it off your mind and onto your chest” philosophy is at the heart of CafePress, the best rule of international travel is to remember where you’re going. And act accordingly. (One caveat: if you ever travel to Quito, you’ll notice that locals jump off moving buses. Having lived there and having drastically underestimated the velocity of a slowing bus during a hackneyed attempt to blend in, I advise all readers to simply ask the driver to stop rather than risking a dramatic – and very public – wipeout in the streets of Ecuador.)
And so we will award a Fantasy T-wearer Award (not to be worn in international travel) to Biz Stone and Evan Williams, co-founders of Twitter today. May they enjoy the “Banned in China” T-shirt, above.