Text editor Notepad++ banned in China after ‘Stand with Hong Kong’ update

The website of Notepad++ is banned in China as of Monday, “obviously due to” its release of editions named “Free Uyghur” and “Stand with Hong Kong,” the source code and text editor announced on Twitter.

First released in 2003 by France-based developer Don Ho, free-to-use Notepad++ operates on Windows and supports some 90 languages. In his release notices for the two editions, Ho openly voiced his concerns over “human rights” conditions, respectively in the Xinjiang autonomous region and Hong Kong.

Tests by TechCrunch found that the Notepad++ ban only applies to its Download page — which showcases the special editions and thus politically sensitive language — when one tries to reach it from Chinese browsers developed by Tencent (QQ Browser and WeChat’s built-in browser), Alibaba (UC Browser), 360 and Sogou. These services flag the page as containing content “prohibited” by local regulators.

Notepad++’s home page, on the other hand, remains unblocked through these local browsers. One can still access the full site from Chrome and DuckDuckGo in China.

The ban began as early as August 12 when a user notified Ho of the ban, the developer told TechCrunch. He has never been contacted by any Chinese government authority and does not plan to take measures to cope with the website restriction.

Ho has over the years unveiled several special versions of the software that referenced his political stance, including one in 2014 related to the pro-democracy Tiananmen demonstrations. When the “Free Uyghur” version came out late last year, an army of patriotic users, posting in Chinese, bombarded the GitHub repository of Notepad++.

It’s unclear how many users the software had amassed in China, but Ho said it is “quite popular” there based on the download figures he could gather from Google Analytics.