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Even The Father Of The Great Firewall Of China Dodges It All The Time

It's pretty embarrassing to show that you can get around censorship that you helped build.

Posted on April 5, 2016, at 8:55 p.m. ET

What's your most embarrassing memory on homecoming day to your alma mater? For Fang Binxing, his visit on Sunday was supposed to be a inspiration to China's future cybersecurity experts but it went, well, less than great.

As "Father of China's Great Firewall," Fang is being ridiculed online after he reportedly tried and failed to bypass the blockade he built in front of a crowd on Sunday.

The 56-year-old was giving a speech titled "Defining Cyber Space Security" at the Harbin Institute of Technology in northeastern China, where he graduated as a Computer Science major. But when he went to open the link to a South Korean website to elaborate his point — that South Korea also adapts internet censorship — the projector showed that the website was blocked by the Great Firewall. In front of a sizeable crowd in the School of Computer Science, he had to using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a common tool to get past the system he built himself, Hong Kong newspaper Mingpao reported. The paper also reported that the school canceled the scheduled session for questions.
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The 56-year-old was giving a speech titled "Defining Cyber Space Security" at the Harbin Institute of Technology in northeastern China, where he graduated as a Computer Science major. But when he went to open the link to a South Korean website to elaborate his point — that South Korea also adapts internet censorship — the projector showed that the website was blocked by the Great Firewall. In front of a sizeable crowd in the School of Computer Science, he had to using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a common tool to get past the system he built himself, Hong Kong newspaper Mingpao reported. The paper also reported that the school canceled the scheduled session for questions.

A picture of the lecture has been circulated on Weibo, presumably taken by one of the students present, showing a page reading "The page can't be found" in Chinese on a projector screen, just below a red banner heralding the "Outstanding Alumnus"' speech.

However, the school decided to ignore the hiccup and published a wrap-up report on Tuesday congratulating Fang's "splendid" report which "won waves of clapping" and informed the students with "cutting-edge" knowledge about cybersecurity.
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However, the school decided to ignore the hiccup and published a wrap-up report on Tuesday congratulating Fang's "splendid" report which "won waves of clapping" and informed the students with "cutting-edge" knowledge about cybersecurity.

This is super ironic for many Chinese internet users, who have been using all sorts of paid or unpaid VPN services just to connect to Facebook, receive important emails on Gmail, or do academic research on Google, which are all blocked in China.

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Posts from the students present who got an impromptu lesson how to use a VPN to dodge the Great Firewall have mostly disappeared on Weibo. But that left internet users to wonder: "ok....fine, but what VPN service did he use?"

For blocking access to the rest of the world, Fang is hated enough to be also dubbed as "People's Enemy" on Chinese internet.

"Apple impressed the world by rejecting to build backdoor for FBI, and Fang Binxing impressed China for not saving a backdoor for himself," one Weibo user said, sarcastically.
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"Apple impressed the world by rejecting to build backdoor for FBI, and Fang Binxing impressed China for not saving a backdoor for himself," one Weibo user said, sarcastically.

How unpopular is he? He's so unpopular that in 2011, a female student at Huazhong University of Science and Technology threw a shoe and hit Fang when he was giving a lecture at another university.

IsaacMao CC BY / Via Flickr: isaacmao

In 2013, when Fang resigned as the head of a Beijing university for health issues, thousands of internet users flooded his Weibo account saying, "bless the devil of illness overcome you," which became the preferred phrase when he does something annoying.

(The normal phrase is "bless you overcome the devil of illness.")
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(The normal phrase is "bless you overcome the devil of illness.")

Some users chided that the hate towards Fang is a bit much. But mostly people are just really mad that he could have done something great — instead of building the Great Firewall. But like this user said, it's no use to blame one single person.

"If he doesn't do it, someone else will do it. And he would have had a hard time if he said no."
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"If he doesn't do it, someone else will do it. And he would have had a hard time if he said no."

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