Using Bitsquare in mainland China

Hi everyone, cnledger ( here. Bitsquare is a fantastic idea. I love it!

However, tor is fully blocked in China (mainland), due to the great firewall. Thus we just can’t fire up Bitsquare.
This means 99% Chinese users won’t be able to use it to trade BTC. It’s also a great loss of Bitsquare user base too.

I wonder does the dev team have any plan to address this problem? Thanks !

(PS Waiting TOR to solve it probably wont help. The great firewall will just evolve to counter-act it, as has been done in years.
I think maybe provide an option to connect through a proxy before the client starts would be a better idea )


As you know, VPN is not blocked yet in China. I have not tested but most likely you can set up a VPS (virtual private server) outside of China, host Bitsquare there and access it via VPN.
Please try to do this, it would help a large number of people if it works without hassle.


Thanks for the reply!

With VPN I think it will work. But I’m afraid even so, the problem stays, as most users here don’t have vpn.
(Running Bitcoin here without vpn is ok. )

I noticed Tor is necessity for bitsquare for solving connectivity issues and enhancing privacy.
I guess that would prevent a vast number of users in China from using bitsquare.

For example we CAN use VPN or some proxy to access google, youtube and twitter.
But most ppl just choose to use local websites (baidu, youku and weibo), even with inferior quality.

Here is a report on bitsquare in Chinese (translated from English).

In the translator’s note on top of the article, it says, and I translate back:

(…advantages of bitsquare…) The flaw/disadvantage of bitsquare is that the built-in tor functions caused the software very hard to connect to the network, and lead to users unable to run the client.

I think it is a hard problem then. I tested Tor over VPN in Wuhan but this did not work.
However most technically educated people in China do use VPN so I think it is still a good idea to try to use VPS for hosting. I did not try since Google forces me to have a company to use them, so I gave up (temporarily).

Please try to introduce Bitsquare and BTC in China, the chinese people deserve some relief from capital controls. Even if they have to buy a VPN :slight_smile:

It might not be necessary with VPN either. I doubt China will block Bitsquare for quite some time. They have more “important” sites to block.

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Thanks for your input.
Yes we are aware and it is definitly an issue we want to solve.
I would need a technical person in China or experienced Tor devs to help to figure out what the best options are. VPN might be the easiest and maybe there are ways how to integrate that in Bitsquare so the user don’t even need to setup anything. If that does nto work, there are Tor pluggable transports, but I fear that will cause a lot of dev work to get that into Bitsquare.
I will setup a bounty on Github for investigating that issue.

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Here is the bounty:

So, obfs4 doesn’t work?

Bridges are probably easier to set up. On GH there is already a suggestion how to do it.

Yes, bridge might be useful. But please also keep in mind that bridges can get banned quickly once its detected by the great firewall. So we’ll have to get new bridges through email once in a while. Eventually most users give up trying using tor.
But we can first setup a vpn/proxy, through which tor can connect successfully.
That is basically what I was suggesting: consider provide an option (some config file/dialogue) for the users to config web connection proxy (ip:port) when launching Bitsquare.

Plan is to run a private (or several) bridges and config that automatically, so user has not manual work. We can use a new bridge address with each release (we release often, each month). In case the bridge gets blocked earlier, we can have some backup bridges and/or distribute new bridges out of band. But I assume as long Bitsquare has not a relevant size they will not hunt us down. SO we have some time at least to improve the solution over time.

If the bridge solution iwll not work/get banned we can try out the alternatives. But I think that is the easiest solution and the one where the user dont need to do anything.

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I implemented support for Tor bridges and would need some chinese (mainland) testers who can help testing it. I want to release soon (weekend?) a new version and it would be great if we could test that feature first to see if it works.
If anyone is availabe please let me know which OS you have (osx, win 32, win 64, linux 32, linux 64) so I know which binary I need to build for the test.

Time to look for an alternative contact ?!

One contact from mats-erik has tested it but it failed. cnLedger will test tomorrow, but more are welcome to be sure about results. To try it over VPN would be good as well.

I’m afraid it’s still not working. Tested on a Win X64

No. of Bitcoin network peers: 11/ Synchronized with Mainnnet (tick mark)
Connecting to Tor network… (only the loading sign)

After a while…

The application could not start after 4 minutes …
[Shutdown] [Close]

Thanks for testing!
Could you try it once more and close the popup and keep it running a few minutes more? there should get displayed a popup where you can enter bridge addresses.

We communicated through twitter. I copy the contents (my part) here in case anyone else wondering what’s going on with the tests:

I clicked close and it returns to the first screen “Connecting to Tor Network…” left it there for ~10 minutes, there’s no popup shown

12 Hours

Yes it’s newly downloaded. Actually I uninstalled the previous version and made a fresh install. The property of exe file says Modification date: 2016/6/23 15:37 MD5:EDBA0FA9FF8A02D5096420DCE1E38DEC
I deleted Tor long time ago (because no bridge kept working for more than a couple of days) I think I can reinstall it later and give it a try

12 Hours
Will it possible for Bitsquare provide an option to add web connection proxy?
I think it might help. At least now I’m using proxy to DM you on twitter

12 Hours
Sure keep the great job going. Really looking forward to use it inside China


I managed to get Bitsquare running on Google compute engine instance, with graphics and all. Apparently Google does not block Tor. If Chinese people can access a VPS outside China, maybe in Hong Kong, they can then use Bitsquare, at least that is my understanding now. This is certainly not a pleasant solution but better than nothing.


Cool! Can you post on a GH issue the technical details how you did the setup, which sys requirements, which remote desktop solution…?

Yes I can. I have done this under ‘issues’ with the label ‘discussion’ and title ‘Hosted Bitsquare using VPS’. Maybe it should be somewhere else, I am not so used to GH.
It works well but slow. I can even interact with Bitsquare using vnc on my Android phone now.