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How's China's Firewall affecting you lately?
By Juwai, 10 December 2016
For most people in the West, China’s Great Firewall is an elusive concept – but you probably know by now it’s China’s way of censoring websites from being viewed within China.
That’s true, but there’s so much more to the Firewall than just that, and it's in constant flux.
That’s because there are many websites constantly trying to circumvent the Firewall. In response to that, China's Firewall is constantly adapting to identify and prevent such attempts from getting through.
The latest ruckus is over China’s move to block mirror sites from GreatFire.org, an anti-censorship activist website. In addition to tracking which sites are blocked in China, GreatFire.org also creates mirror sites, which are copies of blocked sites hosted in a way that allowed them get past the Firewall…until now.
Now that China has made a decisive move to block these mirror sites, they’ve also blocked hundreds of other “non-threatening” sites too by default – collateral damage if you will.
Websites affected include big names like Mercedes-Benz, Sony Mobile, The Atlantic, HSBC, and hundreds of others now completely invisible in China.1, 2
The reason has to do with the content delivery network they’re on, the details of which we won’t get into here.1 However, it’s the newest of many ways in which websites can become blocked in China – regardless of whether the site content is controversial or not.
How does this affect you?
65% of China’s HNWIs say the internet as their preferred source of information3 – and 91% access the internet every day.4 You do the math.
To sell to foreign investors, it’s crucial that your properties are visibly marketed online. Simply put, you must market your brand and listings online to reach China’s massive (and still growing) market.
However, the Great Firewall of China is a major hurdle. After all, if your site is blocked, Chinese buyers can’t see or find you. Not only that, though. Even if your site isn’t “blocked,” the Great Firewall can cause your site to load so slowly that it may as well be blocked.
Services that monitor whether a site is “blocked" in China – such as GreatFire.org – offer only a surface level view as to a website’s accessibility in China. There are a number of deeper issues to consider, such as the fact that China has multiple network providers that make the viewing experience for consumers from different jurisdictions vary vastly in quality.
Even within China, load time can vary from city to city depending on the host server.
Also, depending on how slow a site loads (including sites that aren’t “blocked"), it may take so long the browser just quits trying to load after a certain cut off time – rendering the site just as invisible as those actually on the “blocked” list.
So what can you do about this, seeing as it’s nigh impossible to sell your properties to potential buyers when you’re invisible to them?
Using the Great Firewall as leverage
Strangely enough, the Great Firewall could be advantageous to you.
If your competitors are blocked, you have the upper hand if your listings are on Juwai.com – the only international property portal hosted on both sides of China’s Great Firewall to ensure instant reliable access and a quality user experience for your potential Chinese buyers.
This key advantage is what we’ve dedicated ourselves to providing customers, and it’s by taking the tough and detailed approach to navigating China's in’s and out’s that has resulted in Juwai.com's recognition as China’s 2014 “Most Influential Overseas Property Portal”.5
So, next time you talk to your vendors, don’t forget to remind them of the upper hand you have in marketing to an international audience. After all, your listings are marketed on the #1 Chinese international portal in the world!
Read more about how the Great Firewall affects you.
Sources: 1. Tech in Asia; 2. SCMP; 3. Hurun Report “The Chinese Luxury Traveler 2013”; 4. Hurun Report “The Chinese Luxury Traveler 2014”; 5. China Electronic Commerce Association (CECA)’s “E-Commerce Industry Gateway Conference of China”
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