China: Ping…ping…pfft

The earthquake near Taiwan last night which snapped six underwater internet cables, seems to have left a large part of Asia, particularly the Northeast, struggling for an internet fix.

Those with internet censorship circumvention tools (proxies) already installed on their computers seem to be doing a little better, but for Hong Kong and mainland China, access is now mostly limited to local sites, but even those have been affected as well. China's largest internet portal website's blog site shows almost no mention of the earthquake or the blackout, and RSS feeds slowed to a trickle around lunch time today. MSN and Yahoo! Messenger have been affected as well, although QQ and GTalk are operating normally. Phone calls to other continents, some bloggers are saying, don't connect.

A post from independent blogger Wang Pei shows that not only are Chinese netizens stuck inside the region, but Chinese websites and users seem to have disappeared off the map as well:


Warmly Celebrate Greater China's LAN Testing


Today, English and Japanese netfriends have no way of connecting to mainland Chinese websites, and Sina and Netease are often unreachable. On MSN I only see a few people. I don't know if netfriends in other countries can get on.
One possible explanation is that the Greater China LAN is currently being tested. China is becoming one big internet bar.

“What is the ‘Greater China LAN'?” Wang asks, with a link to fellow indy blogger He Caitou's post on a partnership between China Netcom and American company Verisign which was announced last week, to install root server mirroring (.cn) in China.

Followed by two later updates:


Net friends in America and New Zealand are experiencing the same problems.


I have about three hundred people on my MSN Messenger, but only five are online right now, at least ten times less than usual.

From Hexun blogger zyx105106107 attempts to decipher the reason MSN can't be logged into on his internet service provider, China Netcom, mentioned in the post above above, which he links to the earthquake.


Since this morning, some international websites are inaccessible, including Yahoo!'s domestic site. “MSN”, “Yahoo! Messenger” and other instant messaging tools cannot be logged into. It's verified, Taiwan's earthquake has disrupted China Netcom‘s international internet ports.


China Netcom replies: technical staff have already confirmed, due to the earthquake in Taiwan, China Netcom's international internet ports have been disrupted, and domestic users cannot access some overseas websites.

zyx105106107 also lists details of the six underwater cables affected:

1. 中美海缆于12月26日20:25 距离台湾枋山登陆站,9.7公里左右发生中断;

1. The China-America Sea Cable, 9.7 kilometers from Fangshan, station was broken at around 20:25 on December 26.

2. 亚欧三号海缆于12月26日20:25 距离台湾枋山登陆站 9.7公里左右发生中断;

2. The Asia-Europe #3 Sea Cable, 9.7 kilometers from Fangshan, station was broken at around 20:25 on December 26.

3. 亚太二号海缆S7于12月27日00:06距离台湾淡水登陆站904公里左右发生中断;

3. The Asia-Pacific #2 Sea Cable S7, 904 kilometers from Tamshui station was broken at around 00:25 pm on December 27.

4. 亚太二号海缆S3于12月27日02:00距离崇明登陆站2100公里左右(靠近台湾处)发生中断;

4. The Asia-Pacific #2 Sea Cable S3, 2100 kilometers from Chongming station was broken at around 02:00 pm on December 27.

5. Flag光缆亚太系统于12月26日20:43在韩国到香港段中断;

5. The section of Flag fiberoptic cable, Asia-Pacific system, stretching from Korea to Hong Kong, was broken at around 20:43 on December 26.

6. Flag光缆亚欧段于12月27日04:56在香港到上海段中断。

6. The section of Flag fiberoptic cable, Asia-Europe system, stretching from Hong Kong to Shanghai, was broken at around 04:56 on December 26.


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  • 互联网比你我想象得更脆弱…


  • Becky

    according to sohu, there are 16 underwater internet cables snapped.

  • The previous comment is from Wang Pei, quoted above, and says:

    “Starting yesterday afternoon, I’ve heard some classmates say they couldn’t visit mainland sites. I went on MSN and only a few people were on. It’s like it were the dark ages, so I quickly went and clicked on the bottom right of the screen and saw it was Wednesday. On the mainland, it’s not a public holiday, so I wonder, has the mainland…”

    The ending presumaby refers to the government’s plan to make .cn mirror versions of websites which is making many bloggers nervous and just took a step closer to completion last week. Link to more information in post above, and related analysis here.

  • jordan seidel

    This is all very techie and I can appreciate the importance, but does the average Chinese notice? What’s the status today? What’s the economic impact?

  • It’s 8 pm Thursday here now and the internet is exactly as it was yesterday: those few with proxies set up can access overseas websites, those without cannot. MSN and Yahoo! Messengers are still out service.

    Someone from Singapore just left a message on my own blog saying they got the day off because their internet connections left them confined to Singaporean websites. Pretty much anyone in China whose job requires them to communicate online with people in Hong Kong or beyond is affected. Gmail is still working; I wonder if they’ve just signed up a few million new users…

  • Our Shanghai office is without internet access, but Blackberry went live yesterday morning in Shanghai. What is going on elsewhere in China?

  • Hey CLB.
    Just put up a bit of a latest roundup on my own blog here.

  • […] Global Voices’ John Kennedy, reporting from Guangzhao, is watching his Chinese blogger friends get a lesson in network georgraphy as they discover which services do and don’t function after the cable break. Andrew Lih is in Singapore, and has the results of his tests on different blogging and email services, as well as other net-dependent services like Skype. He sees the current outages as a wakeup call for infrastructure providers in East Asia: With expanses of water separating countries around the Rim of Fire, the region will need to come up with more innovative and robust backup plans. After the South Asia tsunami, satellite communication was the solid backup for voice communication. But those “pipes” are too small to handle so much high speed Internet traffic. I can imagine ASEAN might be interested in collaborating on a true fault-tolerant infrastructure for the region that can survive catastrophic losses of submarine communication. […]

  • […] [Note to viewers outside China: this video may be unviewable (without a proxy server) until the underwater cables damaged in the recent earthquake near Taiwan are repaired.] […]

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