Chinese Internet Outage Raises Questions

April 14, 2012 Updated: August 14, 2015

Chinese netizens were unable to access foreign websites for over an hour on April 12, while users in several other countries had trouble connecting to Chinese sites. In the absence of any official explanation for the unusual outage, speculation emerged online that the Chinese regime may have been testing a ‘kill switch’ to cut the country off from the world in the case of serious political unrest.

The outage took place at around 11:00 am on April 12.

Initially, the possibility was raised that a recent earthquake in Indonesia may have damaged undersea cables. This was refuted by China Telecom, one of the two massive state-owned enterprises—along with China Unicom—that is responsible for the Chinese Internet’s hardware backbone.

Both companies also told foreign journalists that their networks did not experience outages.

The idea of an Internet “kill switch” has been trialled by other authoritarian regimes. In January 2011 Egypt cut off the Internet amidst political unrest there that ultimately led to regimechange. Iran also has an extraordinary plan to cut itself from the global Internet and construct a national intranet system.

Read the original Chinese article

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