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[liberationtech] Man-in-the-middle attack on GitHub in China

x z xhzhang at
Wed Jan 30 09:55:08 PST 2013

@Nadim, I think breaking in a CA is a rather serious crime that GFW would
refrain from committing; but simply f**king with Chinese users are now
partially deemed as "acceptable" somewhat.

@Jacob, for the specific goal of the petition, i.e. "denying entry", I have
the same opinion as yours, i.e., it's not really US government's business.
However, I still support the petitioning, for the following two reasons:

1. it will raise the GFW awareness among Chinese people;
2. if too few people sign the petition, GFW operators and Chinese
censorship authorities would take this as a proof that Chinese users do not
care about GFW, hence reinforcing their belief that what they are doing is
"good cause".

Re GFW awareness. I'm from China and I have many friends in different walks
of life in China. My personal belief is that far fewer people know about or
hate GFW than many people think. Yes, significant portion of Chinese
netizens know that there is *some sort of control* on the internet, so they
can't access "foreign" sites, but many of them think this is "necessary for
China's stability" and it's "OK" (e.g. "all governments control/censor the
internet"). If I'm to give estimates, I would say

1. 95% of netizens think Chinese domestic internet companies beat foreign
ones because the Chinese ones are just "better".
2. 75% of netizens think China's internet is fabulous.
3. 50% of netizens know there is some kind of control (but as I mentioned
earlier, many of them are OK with it, or even support it).
4. <10% of netizens know there is a firewall deployed nation-wide.
5. <2% of netizens hate GFW to the degree that they care to voice the
sentiment on the web.
6. <1% of netizens have tried to circumvent GFW in the past.
7. <0.1% of netizens have a semi-reliable way to actually circumvent GFW
currently, due to recent GFW upgrades.

The percentage of Chinese netizens who are content with the China intranet
is actually rising. In this sense, I think we are losing the battle against
GFW. That is why I think we need unconventional approaches (e.g. this
controversial petition) in addition to circumvention technologies.



2013/1/30 Nadim Kobeissi <nadim at>

> My question: How come the certificate was invalid? Certainly the Chinese
> government knows how to break into a CA and forge valid certificates?
> NK
> On Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 9:58 AM, pacificboy <pacificboy at> wrote:
>> You may be correct, and if this is so, and we do not account for chinese
>> who lives abroad for many years before coming back to China or those who
>> live in Hong Kong which is not subject to the GFW. Then a problem may
>> occur, a problem how they see the world on issue that would affect
>> globally. I mean if they have the strongest cencorship in the world and do
>> not know the truth or the complete issue on issue that may affect us, like
>> human rights or poor product export, etc. Then the people would react or
>> act like the citizens of 1984, based on what the government shows or tell.
>> Then just on that alone should we again break this wall, the same way as
>> those who broke down the Berlin wall to all them the same freedom and
>> rights?
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> On Jan 30, 2013, at 7:36 PM, "Eric S Johnson" <crates at>
>> wrote:
>> >> He didn't know anything about censorship, nor about the great firewall.
>> >
>> > I would second Martin. I'd estimate that
>> >    50% of China's 500M+ netizens don't know about the GFW
>> >    half the rest (25%) don't care
>> >    half the rest care, but aren't sure what they're missing.
>> > The remaining 10%+ care, and know what they're missing, and at least
>> > occasionally cybercircumvent.
>> >
>> > But these are guesses just like Martin's and Bert's. That I know of, the
>> > only hard data comes from polls done by the CASS, the most recent of
>> which
>> > (that I have) are several years old.
>> >
>> > Best,
>> > Eric
>> >
>> > --
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