Recently, a company based in China contacted me about advertising on RF Cafe. After doing a lot of up-front work for them creating advertising materials (Highlighted Ad, 160x600-px banner graphic, etc.), the representative informed me that he cannot access the RFCafe.com domain from his location. It is really difficult to conduct business when the customer cannot review your work, so at least for now, I am going to pass on the opportunity. The obvious question that arises from the experience is whether RFCafe.com is being blocked by China, and how do I find out?
Fortunately, a few options exist with websites that will perform the check for you by pinging your URL from servers within multiple countries. Some, such as GreatFirewallOfChina.org (now CompariTech), tests from inside China using servers in Beijing, Shenzhen, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang Province, and Yunnan Province. RFCafe.com looks good from China according to this service, so I wonder why the aforementioned China-based company cannot reach RFCafe.com?
Wanting to try at least one other domain resolution service to make certain access from China was possible, I used CA Technologies' "App Synthetic Monitor." It tests from numerous countries. The free version checks from servers in China, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Switzerland, and the U.S. RFCafe.com looks good from all locations. There is a subscription service that monitors access status from up to 48 countries.
For kicks, I typed in a few domains into GreatFirewallOfChina.com to see who might be blocked. News websites are the best candidates for trial since China is known to block sources considered generally unfavorable to their policies. FoxNews.com is blocked - no surprise there. NYTimes.com is also blocked, as is WSJ.com (Wall Street Journal). Those having access include CBSNews.com, CNN.com, DrudgeReport.com (very surprised), HuffingtonPost.com, NBCNews.com, and NPR.org. Testing some U.S. government websites produced varied results. WhiteHouse.gov is banned, along with FCC.gov and CIA.gov (LOL). NIST.gov, FBI.gov, NASA.gov, ESA.int, and DHS.gov are allowed. Go figure.
Update: No change in status of any of the websites as of May 17, 2018.
If your company markets products and/or services to countries outside your homeland, you should test access occasionally to make sure you are not being blocked. If you are blocked, I have no idea what to do about it, but at least you will know.
Posted June 18, 2016