As an 18-year-old student with an interest in the Internet, Zhu Nan had been itching to say something about the country's pervasive online censorship system, widely known here as the Great Firewall.
When China's censors began blocking access to the popular photo-sharing site Flickr, Zhu felt the moment had come. Writing on his blog last year, the student, who is now a freshman at a university in this city, questioned the rationale for Internet restrictions, and in subsequent posts, began passing along tips on how to evade them.
"Officials in our country claimed that Internet censorship is done according to the law," Zhu wrote. "If so, why not let people know about this legal project, and why, instead, ban the Web sites that publicize and examine those legal policies? If you're determined to do this, you shouldn't be afraid of criticism."
Zhu's obscure blog post and his subsequent activism is a small part of what many here regard as a watershed moment. In recent months, China's censors have tightened controls over the Internet, often blacking out sites that had no discernible political content. In the process, they have fostered a backlash, as many people who previously had little interest in politics have become active in resisting the controls.
And all of it comes at a time of increasing risk for those who choose to protest. Human rights advocates say the government has been broadening its crackdown on any signs of dissent as the Olympic Games in Beijing draw near.
International Herald Tribune is ambivalent. Although most Chinese Internet users have been quiescent so far, the seeds of conflict may be sown as more and more websites are made inaccessible: