Censorship in China

Programmers angry over blocking of GitHub code-sharing site

Blocking of popular US-based code-sharing site GitHub triggers outpouring of protests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 10:04am

The latest group of mainlanders angered by the "great firewall" is the software-developer community, with its favourite code-sharing site, US-based GitHub, blocked since Monday.

Access appeared to have partially resumed late yesterday.

The blocking triggered a massive outcry from programmers, the loudest since Google closed its Chinese search service on the mainland in 2010.

Kai-Fu Lee, a former president of Google China and now the chief executive of his own venture capital firm, condemned the blocking of GitHub on his microblog on Tuesday night.

He said it made it harder for Chinese programmers to connect with overseas information technology communities and would end up damaging their competitiveness and limiting their vision.

"GitHub has neither ideological nor anti-government content on it. There was no reason to block a site like that," Lee said in the post, which was forwarded more than 70,000 times in 15 hours and attracted 15,100 comments.

But Thomas Yao, founder of a popular Chinese site similar to GitHub, accused bloggers of stupidly straying from the site's intended technology-based content and discussions, thereby causing the site to be blocked.

"The main reason for the blocking of GitHub was that some blogs that used the site's service contained sensitive content," Yao said on his microblog yesterday.

Feng Dahui, a programmer and blogger, asked on his microblog yesterday whether the Chinese IT community should support bloggers who posted sensitive content on the site.

"There are about 1,000 of them and they are accustomed to posting sensitive content no matter where they go, and have previously caused the blocking of Twitter and Google+. What do you think about this?" Feng asked.

Many journalists and internet users blamed GitHub's problems on a recent increase in censorship on the mainland.