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Author Topic: Bitcoins in mainland China  (Read 2086 times)
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June 09, 2011, 09:26:25 AM
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I have been telling many people in mainland China about Bitcoins,  some of them seem very interested.
Can someone explain for me how easy/difficult it will be for the great firewall of China to be able to stop the spread of bitcoins?

Is it possible that a non technical person inside of China will have trouble sending and receiving bitcoins with someone outside of China?

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June 09, 2011, 09:31:23 AM
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I'd like to know this as well.

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June 09, 2011, 09:39:07 AM
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The firewall is not the only problem. http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/aarticle/newsrelease/commonnews/200906/20090606364208.html

To circumvent it is very easy. All you need to do is
1. Download Tor browser bundle
2. Download Bitcoin
3. Start Tor and in Bitcoin client Settings->Options check "Connect through socks4 proxy"
Use IP 127.0.0.1 Port 9050 which are default
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June 09, 2011, 10:13:57 AM
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The peer to peer nature of Bitcoin solves this problem. As long as a few nodes manage to break through the Golden Shield, they can distribute the outside world's new blocks to the regular chinese people who don't know how to circumvent the firewall and they are the ones moving chinese blocks/transactions out to the world.

The cool thing about Bitcoin is, that you don't need a direct connection to the person you want transfer money to. If I'm in China and want to transfer to some guy in the USA, all I need is his Bitcoin address: I create the transaction, which gets broadcasted to the chinese part of the Bitcoin network. Now, either it reaches a node that broke the Golden Shield and from there it reaches the global Bitcoin network, or it just goes into the next block that is created in China and that block somehow finds its way out of China.

Though I'm not so sure about competing block chains. Maybe, when dealing with China, wait for 8 confirmations or something?

The communist party could however modify the Golden Shield in such a way that every Bitcoin address gets replaced by a government owned one. Then chinese people would accidentally transfer all their Bitcoins to the government. The only way to prevent that would be a secure way to tell somebody your bitcoin address.  What I mean is, if I say that my Bitcoin address is 13FsW67CtKn97TfjVqG8bDqTRA3b7Xjgxg , can you be sure that you see what I actually wrote? Maybe an evil forum admin changed the address to his own, so instead of giving me money, you give it to the forum authorities...

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June 09, 2011, 10:18:39 AM
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What I mean is, if I say that my Bitcoin address is 13FsW67CtKn97TfjVqG8bDqTRA3b7Xjgxg , can you be sure that you see what I actually wrote? Maybe an evil forum admin changed the address to his own, so instead of giving me money, you give it to the forum authorities...
This is what PGP signing was invented for.

I know this because Tyler knows this.
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June 09, 2011, 11:11:19 AM
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What I mean is, if I say that my Bitcoin address is 13FsW67CtKn97TfjVqG8bDqTRA3b7Xjgxg , can you be sure that you see what I actually wrote? Maybe an evil forum admin changed the address to his own, so instead of giving me money, you give it to the forum authorities...
This is what PGP signing was invented for.

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June 09, 2011, 11:43:35 AM
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TTo circumvent it is very easy. All you need to do is
1. Download Tor browser bundle
2. Download Bitcoin
3. Start Tor and in Bitcoin client Settings->Options check "Connect through socks4 proxy"
Use IP 127.0.0.1 Port 9050 which are default

The great firewall of China blocks Tor.

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June 09, 2011, 11:49:41 AM
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Can someone explain for me how easy/difficult it will be for the great firewall of China to be able to stop the spread of bitcoins?

They can make it painful. For ex., they could block all bootstrap methods (IRC and known nodes). They could filter packets, screwing those who do not encrypt their connections.
Tor is already blocked, so it wouldn't help much either.

Is it possible that a non technical person inside of China will have trouble sending and receiving bitcoins with someone outside of China?

I guess it would be as much as hard as it is for these non technical people to access forbidden web content... they would have to find a proxy which hasn't yet been taken down.

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June 09, 2011, 11:50:20 AM
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TTo circumvent it is very easy. All you need to do is
1. Download Tor browser bundle
2. Download Bitcoin
3. Start Tor and in Bitcoin client Settings->Options check "Connect through socks4 proxy"
Use IP 127.0.0.1 Port 9050 which are default

The great firewall of China blocks Tor.

I thought Tor is used to get through the firewall?
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June 09, 2011, 11:55:55 AM
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Well, no. What I heard is that they mostly use encrypted VPN connections to connect to proxies outside of China. And the communist party can't ban VPN at the moment, since it is a tool that is used by nearly all corporations in the world to secure their communications. Banning it would be disastrous for both chinese corporations and international corporations that also operate in China.

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June 09, 2011, 12:15:26 PM
 #11

I have been telling many people in mainland China about Bitcoins,  some of them seem very interested.
Can someone explain for me how easy/difficult it will be for the great firewall of China to be able to stop the spread of bitcoins?

Is it possible that a non technical person inside of China will have trouble sending and receiving bitcoins with someone outside of China?

As far as I know and my experience, now bitcoin client runs very well in China. At present, bitcoin is not widely spread in China, and I think just about several hundreds have the experience of running the client. On the other hand, as it gets more popular, it may be a problem. Of course, bitcoin is not just a barrier and problem for China, it is a great challenge to all governments in the world. How will the White house response to bitcoin? Let's go ahead.

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June 09, 2011, 04:43:21 PM
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Reading that article I kept thinking: But... Bitcion is not a virtual currency; it is a real currency you can use to buy real goods. Of course, something may have gotten lost in the translation/summarizing. The definition of a virtual currency appears to be tautological.

A virtual currency is a currency that can only be bought at a fixed exchange rate, and can only exchanged for virtual goods. As such, it is illegal to use such a "Virtual currency" to buy real goods. I can't read the original Chinese, but those rules may not apply to bitcoin because the exchange rate floats, and there is no single issuer that only accepts it in exchange for virtual goods.

Obviously if you are living in china, you will want to look at the regulations more carefully than I just did.

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June 09, 2011, 06:08:49 PM
 #13

TTo circumvent it is very easy. All you need to do is
1. Download Tor browser bundle
2. Download Bitcoin
3. Start Tor and in Bitcoin client Settings->Options check "Connect through socks4 proxy"
Use IP 127.0.0.1 Port 9050 which are default

The great firewall of China blocks Tor.

Inaccurate, the GFW block searchs for Tor and the Tor website itself. But they can not block Tor traffic, it's impossible, unless they maintain a whitelist and block all other traffic coming in and out of China (which isn't unimaginable for Chinese government)

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June 09, 2011, 07:06:56 PM
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I have been telling many people in mainland China about Bitcoins,  some of them seem very interested.
Can someone explain for me how easy/difficult it will be for the great firewall of China to be able to stop the spread of bitcoins?

Is it possible that a non technical person inside of China will have trouble sending and receiving bitcoins with someone outside of China?

It almost doesn't matter from the technical perspective if they can stop it or not if they can do this: http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/ebusiness/218101859

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June 09, 2011, 07:29:32 PM
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It almost doesn't matter from the technical perspective if they can stop it or not if they can do this: http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/ebusiness/218101859

So it comes down to black markets and citizens willingness to flaunt authority eh? Yeah, I'm pretty sure we can do that.


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June 09, 2011, 07:52:41 PM
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Don't neglect the Hong Kong market. If even a few people of influence in Hong Kong support bitcoin, it could make a difference down the road, at least in terms of enforcement in the mainland. There is a lot of hot money in Hong Kong, and more people are educated about currencies there than just about anywhere else in the world. I've spent enough time in the bourses and forex bucketshops of Kowloon and Central HK to know that if bitcoin were properly presented (or even improperly presented), it would definitely take off in China.
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June 10, 2011, 08:32:49 AM
 #17

Inaccurate, the GFW block searchs for Tor and the Tor website itself. But they can not block Tor traffic, it's impossible, unless they maintain a whitelist and block all other traffic coming in and out of China (which isn't unimaginable for Chinese government)

No, the GFW blocks Tor itself. It doesn't need a whitelist. It just need to
  • Blacklist all public tor relays
  • Pay some low-wage Chinese to go on creating Google accounts and tracking each tor bridge as soon as it's up, to block them as well.

They are already doing this. Unless there has been some new progress on tor capability of hiding from the GFW that I'm not aware of.

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