China Blocking TLS 1.3 Using ESNI

China is apparently blocking all HTTPS traffic that uses TLS 1.3’s ESNI. The folks at the Geneva project have a detailed report about what triggers the censorship.

With previous version of TLS, although the traffic between a computer and a server would be encrypted, the Server Name Indication (SNI) field allowed ISPs to determine which website the user was communicating with.

TLS 1.3 fixes that by introducing Encrypted SNI (ESNI), so that it is impossible for ISPs or other entities to see what website the user is trying to access. As the report notes,

ESNI has the potential to complicate nation-states’ abilities to censor HTTPS content; rather than be able to block only connections to specific websites, ESNI would require censors to block all TLS connections to specific servers. We do confirm that this is now happening in China!

. . .

Comparing the traffic captured on both endpoints, we find the GFW [Great Firewall] blocks ESNI connections by dropping packets from clients to servers.

This has two differences from how the GFW censors other commonly-used protocols. First, the GFW censors (non-encrypted) SNI and HTTP by injecting forged TCP RSTs to both server and client; conversely, we have observed no injected packets from the GFW to censor ESNI traffic. Second, the GFW drops traffic from server to client to block Tor and Shadowsocks servers; however, it drops only client-to-server packets when censoring ESNI.

We further note the GFW does not distinguish the flags of TCP packets when dropping them. (This is different from some censorship systems in Iran which do not drop packets with RST or FIN flags.)

The Geneva project report goes on to describe a number of strategies to evade this censorship.

The Ancient Origins of Rock Paper Scissors

According to Wikipedia, Rock Paper Scissors can be traced back to 3rd century BCE China,

The first known mention of the game was in the book Wuzazu [zh] by the Chinese Ming-dynasty writer Xie Zhaozhi [zh] (fl. c. 1600), who wrote that the game dated back to the time of the Chinese Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). In the book, the game was called shoushiling. Li Rihua’s book Note of Liuyanzhai also mentions this game, calling it shoushiling, huozhitou, or huaquan.

Mushi-ken, the earliest Japanese sansukumi-ken game (1809). From left to right: slug (namekuji), frog (kawazu) and snake (hebi).
Throughout Japanese history there are frequent references to sansukumi-ken, meaning ken (fist) games where “the three who are afraid of one another” (i.e. A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A). This type of game originated in China before being imported to Japan and subsequently also becoming popular among the Japanese.

The earliest Japanese sansukumi-ken game was known as mushi-ken, which was imported directly from China. In mushi-ken the “frog” (represented by the thumb) triumphs over the “slug” (represented by the little finger), which, in turn prevails over the “snake” (represented by the index finger), which triumphs over the “frog”. Although this game was imported from China the Japanese version differs in the animals represented. In adopting the game, the original Chinese characters for the poisonous centipede were apparently confused with the characters for the slug. The most popular sansukumi-ken game in Japan was kitsune-ken. In the game, a supernatural fox called a kitsune defeats the village head, the village head defeats the hunter, and the hunter defeats the fox. Kitsune-ken, unlike mushi-ken or rock–paper–scissors, is played by making gestures with both hands.

Trump on China’s Handling of COVID-19

As Donald Trump has taken to referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus”, it is worth remembering ahead of the election this year that he initially had nothing but praise for China’s handling of the virus, including the possibility that they weren’t accurately reporting cases.

Trump had the following exchange with Geraldo Rivera during a February 14, 2020 interview,

Geraldo Rivera: Are you worried about this virus affecting … I mean, obviously, you’re worried about the virus and people getting sick, but what about the economy as another victim of the [inaudible]

Donald Trump: Well, we’re working on it very closely. I spoke to President Xi two days ago. They’re working on it very professionally. It’s a problem. We think and we hope, based on all signs, that the problem goes away in April because … which is not too far down the road … because heat kills this virus. We think. Now we’re going to find out, Geraldo, but we think. And they are having difficulty in China, but they’re working very, very hard. We’re working with them. We’re sending a lot of people, and CDC has been great, but it’s a problem in China. Has not been spreading very much and, in our country, we only have basically 12 cases, and most of those people are recovering and, some cases, fully recovered. So it’s actually less. But-

Geraldo Rivera: Did the Chinese tell the truth about this?

Donald Trump: Well, you never know. I think they want to put the best face on it. So I mean, if somebody … If you were running it, you’d probably … You wouldn’t want to run out to the world and go crazy and start saying whatever it is because you don’t want to create a panic. But, no, I think they’ve handled it professionally, and I think they’re extremely capable. And I think President Xi is extremely capable, and I hope that it’s going to be resolved. Again, the April date is very important, but this is a big thing. The April date is very, very important because, if that’s the case, if heat does in fact kill … That’s when it starts getting hot, and this virus reacts very poorly to heat and dies. So we’ll see what happens.

Trump praised China’s response, including any efforts they made to hide the spread of cases, because this precisely how Trump would and did handle the pandemic.

Like Xi, the only thing that matters to Trump is the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has on him personally, not the lives lost and irreparably damaged because of his incompetence and failure to act.

On Same Day, Trump Declares “National Day for the Victims of Communism” and Congratulates Communist Dictator

The White House issued a press release on November 7, 2017 declaring a National Day for the Victims of Communism.

Today, the National Day for the Victims of Communism, marks 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia. The Bolshevik Revolution gave rise to the Soviet Union and its dark decades of oppressive communism, a political philosophy incompatible with liberty, prosperity, and the dignity of human life.

Over the past century, communist totalitarian regimes around the world have killed more than 100 million people and subjected countless more to exploitation, violence, and untold devastation. These movements, under the false pretense of liberation, systematically robbed innocent people of their God-given rights of free worship, freedom of association, and countless other rights we hold sacrosanct. Citizens yearning for freedom were subjugated by the state through the use of coercion, violence, and fear.

Today, we remember those who have died and all who continue to suffer under communism. In their memory and in honor of the indomitable spirit of those who have fought courageously to spread freedom and opportunity around the world, our Nation reaffirms its steadfast resolve to shine the light of liberty for all who yearn for a brighter, freer future.

That evening, President Donald Trump tweeted out congratulations to Communist dictator Xi Jinping for “his great political victory.”

U.S. Army’s “How To Spot A Jap” Pamphlet

This “How To Spot A Jap” comic was included in the U.S. Army’s 1942 “Pocket Guide to China,” which it distributed to soldiers who were being sent to fight in China. Milton Caniff, creator of the Terry and the Pirates comic strip, did the illustrations.

Instructing people on how to distinguish Chinese from Japanese people was apparently a common theme of World War II-era propaganda. For example, the December 22, 1941 edition of Life magazine ran a feature titled How To Tell Japs from the Chinese.