So Much For Negotiation: Chinese Government Orders Browsers to Kill Train Ticket Plugins

C. Custer
3:10 am on Jan 19, 2013

Just yesterday it seemed that China’s Railway Ministry was in the process of negotiating nicely with domestic browser companies to get them to remove plugins and other web apps that made it easier for users to purchase train tickets on the Ministry’s 12306 ticket purchase site. But apparently those negotiations weren’t moving fast enough, because the now another government agency, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has stepped in and ordered domestic browser companies to knock it off.

The order apparently came down some time on Friday, and it will put a swift end to all domestic ticket-helper services, meaning that everyone has to go back to using the poorly-designed 12306 website itself, or stick with overseas options like Firefox plugins that the government may not be able to shut down. But the request isn’t as unreasonable as it sounds; many of the plugins work by ceaselessly refreshing the 12306 site once installed; needless to say, this can put quite a load on the Railway Ministry’s servers.

Still though, as I pointed out yesterday, an easier way to fix this would be for the Ministry to build a better user experience on its own site so that people didn’t feel the need to turn to helper apps in the first place. The fact that there are dozens of these apps available is a sign that something isn’t working on the 12306 site, and that ought to be the Ministry’s first priority.

(via Sina Tech)

  • Ed

    Tried to book tickets from Xi’an to Datong today when they became available this morning. ALL sleeper tickets (hard and soft) were gone in 5 minutes. There is definitely something fishy going on here …

  • Archie

    “There is definitely something fishy going on here …”

    You mean on the website, or in China in general?!

  • Archie

    “There is definitely something fishy going on here …”

    You mean on the website, or in China in general?

  • Jonathan

    My girlfriend, both of her parents, and me all separately and repeatedly tried to grab any tickets we could get from Shenzhen to Wuhan. Even when we miraculously were able to get through the initial booking screens, the website simply said that it was overloaded and the bookings failed.

    After about a half hour of futile efforts, we decided to book flight tickets instead before those tickets were also sold out.

    If they made the booking website better, it would not add any more tickets to the overall pool of tickets, and the same number of people will still be unable to find any ticket. However, if the site worked better, at least the people who could not find tickets would feel marginally less angry at the situation.

  • ZenBlog

    In fact, the Chinese government invested 300 million construction the website “”, but in the end how much money is spent on this site, do you know?Anyway, I do not know!

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