There are a couple of things China is known for – fortune cookies, Tai Chi, the Great Wall of China, and recently – the Great Firewall of China.
The Great Firewall of China stop people from surfing websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all of Google. The Chinese government blocks numerous forms of news and media outlets from international sources on the Internet to avoid exposing secrets of the state that may be harmful for the reputation of the Chinese government. Thus, freedom of speech and expression in China have been debated about for decades.
Last week, China tightened their already existing firewall, stopping people from surfing websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all of Google. Many of the websites that have been moving the world forward are included in China’s blocked websites list, and as a result of the government’s most recent step-up on censorship technology, the Chinese people are finding it more and more difficult to keep up with the rest of the world.
That means, people all around mainland China currently aren’t able to refresh their Facebook feeds, or even have a Facebook from the beginning.
But of course, the Great Firewall didn’t, and won’t, stop the Chinese people from being on the international grid.
Overtime, Chinese technophiles have found ways to hop over the Great Firewall using VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, to get on websites the Chinese government blocked. With these VPNs, they are able to access and produce content onto websites the government disapprove of. This means, most people who are on VPNs are able to access any and all websites, outsmarting the Chinese government and entering the global network and social media. These VPNs are openly sold at Apple Stores and online shopping sites, very attainable for anyone who desires it.
This time around, the Chinese government targeted several of these VPNs and blocked them. The reason for this recent crackdown, the Chinese media express, is “for safety”, rather many experts suspect that the Communist party has been wanting to filter out what the world has to say about the Chinese government’s political and economic status.
Every now and then, the firewall is built higher and higher by the government, but people find and develop new ways to climb over it. Wu Ya, a millennial who runs a tech magazine and has a new VPN in Beijing says it’s like “playing a game. When the Great Firewall is built higher, you need to make your ladder higher to get over it.”
“The worst thing is that the Great Firewall is blocking opportunities for Chinese to keep up with the most advanced technologies in the world. It’s a losing game.”
Except it’s not “a game” anymore when the fate of your company depends on how high and strict the Great Firewall of China is. Businesses based in China rely heavily on VPNs to communicate with other countries. With effective communication comes business partnerships, and with successful business partnerships come economic growth and stability. Taking away VPNs that have been indirectly benefiting the country’s economic status may very much be detrimental to China’s economy. Not only will it lessen the amount of successful business partnerships, but it will also discourage corporations to continue doing business in China.
Without allowing access to social media – the decade’s most powerful global tool – the Chinese government is only doing harm to its society. We’ve clearly seen how much social media and the internet has moved and advanced us forward over the past couple of years, and how that has changed the world permanently for the better.
China, as one of the largest and most populated nations in the world, who has a government that wants to stop them from progressing with the world by blocking social media, is no doubt “protecting” their citizens from something that has the potential to improve their society exponentially.