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Rachel Lu

Weibo Rumor Watch: Want to Access Gmail in China? Read Some Communist Propaganda First


Social media users on Twitter and Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, have complained about slow or spotty Internet access, particularly to Google and Gmail, during the countdown to China’s leadership transition. But is it a result of the Party’s desperate attempt to draw eyeballs to the 18th Party Congress, where the handover of power will take place?

@黑麦_, a fashion editor, shared this tip on Sina Weibo: “If your Gmail does not work, open the Xinhua News Agency’s website and browse news about the 18th Party Congress, and your Internet service will recover in about five minutes. Just another [expletive] tip to get on with your life. How [expletive] stupid.” {{1}}[[1]] 只要gmail没反应,就立即打开新华网,查看十八大新闻,网速马上恢复,约5分钟。 这他妈是生活小敲门么,真傻逼。[[1]]

The post was retweted more than 14,000 times on Sina Weibo. Many social media users reported that they were indeed able to open Google and Gmail using this magical tip–a few even said that they were able to briefly access Facebook. “Geez, it really does work. I found that [Gmail works] if you just keep Xinhua’s website open on the side,” tweeted @在醉中寻找回忆 on Weibo.

“A bundled sale!” declared Zhang Lifan, a historian. A dedicated game wrote, “Now I know why I keep getting kicked off my web game; it’s because I did not read about the 18th Party Congress.”

Others believe this is merely a coincidence that does not reflect the level of artificial intelligence–or sense of humor–of the Chinese government’s cyber monitoring technology. @2012阿伦 tweeted, “It’s just an automatic shut-down of about 15 minutes. You can access [Gmail] after ten or fifteen minutes regardless of whether you have Xinhua’s site open.”

Others joked that the same principle has wider applications in life. @不吵不习惯啊 tweeted on Weibo, ”My mobile Internet speed got faster after I meditated for a while with the thought ‘Happily welcome the 18th Party Congress.’ I swear it’s true.”

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Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.
  • http://twitter.com/copdaman Thomas R

    It may or may not be just a superstition, but I always do something similar when I accidentally go to a blocked website: immediately search for Great Mao, Successful Deng, Wonderful Communism, and other related search terms on Baidu. It gets my internet working quickly again without fail.

  • Rod

    What is the most common way for accessing the gmail in China now?