Months ago, I was greeted with a blank page and a strange message after trying to log in to my Chinese social media accounts.
Instead of the usual 404 error or “Could Not Find Server” message typical of overseas websites, the blank page simply read “DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN.” Jumping to another Chinese website, I found the same blank page and “NXDOMAIN” screen.
Again and again, the mysterious message appeared. Other computers in the house, and even my phone, pulled the same error. Oddly, taking the phone off WiFi allowed instant access to the pages.
Non-Chinese websites didn’t have a problem. Facebook, Google and other pages loaded without a hitch.
Tech forums offered a few solutions, none of which worked to restore the foreign pages. One conversation caught my eye — users discussing the error mentioned that China is known to selectively block incoming requests, giving dissidents the telltale “NXDOMAIN” message.
For a country that maintains a “Great Firewall” to throttle and control internet traffic, this seemed like a plausible scenario.
Pulling the top 25 most-visited websites from the communist country’s Alexa rankings (try it for yourself), only five resulted in a workable webpage. The others either gave me the mysterious “NXDOMAIN” error or their functions were broken beyond use.
After a short walk to my local library, I reloaded all 25 web pages on my laptop and my blood ran cold.
Every single one loaded perfectly, no longer displaying the “NXDOMAIN” error. This confirmed something very unsettling.
Assuming the block is tied to my home router/modem setup, the Chinese likely have my IP (Internet Protocol) address and a fairly good idea of where I live. At the very least, they can narrow it down to the town.
But how, and why, was I singled out?
I used caution with my Chinese social media accounts. Instead of my face and Sinicized name, the accounts had generic pictures and the Mandarin Chinese equivalent to the name “John Smith.” It couldn’t be them — I used the accounts only to browse, as even a misconstrued comment can land you with a ban. Besides, many of the websites displaying the “NXDOMAIN” error are ones I’ve never visited.
One guess is that my IP address was scraped when I visited pages on the Chinese Ministry of Defense’s website. Often the only source of certain Chinese military information, identification pulled from a hidden visitor’s log can easily be linked to authors found to be using the same exclusive information. A look into the author’s work would reveal anything critical of the Chinese regime.
Chinese censorship, a pervasive fact of life in the communist country, has been kicked into overdrive since the 2019 outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Wuhan. According to NPR, following the pandemic and growing international criticism, the Chinese government mandated that its top tech companies actively participate in the censorship themselves.
The order, it seems, is applied to American citizens critical of China’s role in the pandemic.
Perhaps most shocking is the American investment capital willingly given to these corporate thugs of the Chinese Communist Party.
According to CNN, Baidu, China’s top internet giant that has blocked at least one American citizen and countless Chinese, counts U.S. investment firm BlackRock among the top holders of its stock. BlackRock also holds stake in Weibo, another Chinese tech conglomerate not shy about limiting the flow of free information to benefit the People’s Republic.
While American companies are largely free to park their money anywhere they please, BlackRock’s handsome investment in these Chinese companies is all but an acceptance of the Chinese government’s suppression of its own people and sits in stark contrast to the firm’s outspokenly progressive agenda.
BlackRock is not the only American company listed in the ownership documents of these Chinese censorship agents. Several other organizations, from banks to retirement funds, want in on the Asian powerhouse’s meteoric rise.
To push a woke agenda at home is one thing, but to do so while investing in oppressive overseas regimes is something else entirely. This isn’t limited to corporations — even American politicians are getting in on the hypocritical action.
While this censorship is only an inconvenience for Americans, the suppression in China is a very real danger to the people there. Unfortunately, it’s happening with the financial support of U.S. investment firms.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.