I am a QQ user, which is part of Chinese social media. From Tencent 腾讯 in China, QQ is a simpler messaging and social media ecosystem than WeChat 微信. In the past couple of months I have been noticing more content is blocked to me here in Canada. More concerning is that China is beginning to use new protocols on the internet that are unique to China.
Geoblocking is regularly used by Chinese stores. I search for their products on Baidu, find images but cannot go to their web pages because they detect that I am not in China and block me. While this is annoying, at least I can understand the technical mechanism. They do not want Western eyes looking at their web pages, and that is their prorogative.
More concerning is the new internet protocols that cannot be rendered by standard browsers such as Opera and Firefox. I am browsing on a small laptop using Opera and Firefox. From my QQ social media wall, which displays friend posts, I found a link to an interesting article:
This kandianshare.html5.qq.com link sent me to this web page, which renders and animates in html.
After a second I receive an error from Opera, saying the “qnreading” protocol is not supported.
After this “qnreading” protocol error the site redirects me to a download page for Android or Apple appstore. The URL has now switched to kuaibao.qq.com.
Switching from Opera to Firefox I receive a similar message:
Notice that, in this case Firefox, the internet protocol has changed from https:// to qnreading://
A Google search on the qnreading protocol is pretty sparse. This protocol does exist, as other people have posted about it. Their posts are only in Chinese, so leads me to conclude that this is a China-internal internet protocol.
It is my guess that the qnreading protocol is part of the WeChat ecosystem, also owned by Tencent. I only have QQ installed, but this qnreading protocol is not included, and therefore I could not read this protocol.
A friend reminded me about the Tencent Open Platform. It includes both QQ and QZone, QQ’s wall. This site includes a new graphic, which I later found to be Tencent’s app store (腾讯应用宝 Tencent App Treasure). I did not find any reference to the qnreading protocol on that site. It is clear that QQ is not going away anytime soon.
It looks increasingly that China will diversify away from international internet protocols. They have already done so with the qnreading protocol. China only has a few major internet companies that dominate their social media and therefore internet space, such as Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu. All are Chinese companies and must follow Chinese law and therefore the CCP.