The internet blackout began with no warning. Jesse, an English teacher living in Xinjiang, in northwest China, had been up until the early hours reading about deadly riots which had broken out in the regional capital of Urumqi -- anxiously checking the news and emailing friends to let them know he was safe.
When he woke up the following morning, he was surprised to see he had no new emails. Then he realized that nothing was loading at all. "Between 3am and 8 or 9am, things got cut, and then we couldn't access anything outside," Jesse said. In response to a day or so of protests and riots in one city, the whole of Xinjiang -- a region of more than 617,700 square miles (1.6 million square kilometers) and 20 million people in 2009 -- was cut off from the internet for almost 10 months.