China Firewall Ban Reported on Etherscan

In the past months, two instances revealed China’s access to Etherscan was blocked, with a new ban since December 1., the most widely available service for tracking Ethereum activity, has been blocked by the Chinese internet firewall since December 1. This is the second ban in the past three months, as access was once blocked at the end of October.

The ban follows a series of crackdowns against small exchanges, but there is still no rationale for the blocking. China has offered a mix of cases where blockchain technology is both encouraged with large-scale state support, or censored.

Etherscan offers functionalities beyond merely reporting token balances and transactions, and offers a censorship-free comments section.

Blocking Etherscan is, for now, one of the direct ways in which decentralized technology is still affected by the potential for censorship. The Ethereum blockchain, however, is still accessible, as China hosts multiple nodes, including in Hong Kong. Viewing token transactions is still possible through personal wallets.

The Etherscan tool is available through DNS and the regular internet infrastructure, and is not a peer-to-peer network. For that reason, the problem of centralizing some crypto-related services has risen again.

In the past, the Ethereum network saw usage as a carrier of messages related to the #MeToo campaign as it spread to China. In 2018, blockchains were used to transfer limited messages related to student activism, reported Bloomberg. At this point, the blockchain has grown too large to glean specific messages, but still, the tools remain available.

Other Ethereum explorers are not blocked in China, and users can actually access a Chinese version, Blockchain explorers offer a faster way of recognizing transactions, and allow projects to access the Ethereum network more cheaply.

The Chinese crypto sector has also seen a boom of local startups, with a large number of firms including “blockchain” in their name.

At the same time, large-scale crypto startups and projects are a handful. The Heinan crypto sector is one of the hotbeds of activity, inviting startups and exchanges to the Southern China island.

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