Internet in China: Banner of Freedom or Sharp Weapon?

By Shiru Zhou

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Did you know that facebook and google, the topmost ranked apps, are block by the government in China?

It’s may sound crazy to you. I agree that it is. China view that censoring its citizens and having rigid limitations on their freedom of expression is too extreme. This is particularly obvious in their approach to social media.

China is a socialist country. China is a country who desires the authority. China is a country who can’t be oppugn. Therefore, the Chinese government’s Internet regulation does not allow personal opinions that are inconsistent with their official version. This “purification” of content victimizes citizens whose curiosity should be the driving force for their learning. Government “control” denies them from find explanations/answers to their curiosity, thus it killing the imagination and creativity of the citizens. Acquiring knowledge is the right of people. Due to the management of the government, nationals cannot acquire knowledge in various ways and increase their horizons.

In the past few years, the Chinese people have been complaining about the smog in the city. On February 28, 2015, a girl named Chai Jing uploaded a documentary of her own, “Under the Dome”, about her own view of the smog. This film gained a national record of views clicked and played more than 100 million times a week. Then it vanished on March 7, 2015.

“Under the Dome” raised the public’s attention to smog. Good. But after the film is spread, the public would naturally investigate the reasons for the smog siege. One of them is the government’s poor management. The Chinese government is most afraid of being widely questioned because it may shake the foundation of its governance.

Chinese officials have also blocked the negative news of “Leading officials” for the same aim: to protect their authority and reduce people’s doubts about the government.  This behavior damages the reputation of the law, interferes with people’s lives, blocks information dissemination and damages China’s national reputation.

 As a typical Western company, Google may think that supervising government officials is a basic and universal responsibility of the press, the business community and even any citizens. However, Chinese government’s ruling method is to block negative government news and prohibit people from discussing and questioning. Mistake. A free news media is a necessary condition for a clean government.

What’s more, by blocking international websites from Chinese citizen, Chinese citizens cannot correct the stereotypes and misconceptions about them maliciously exaggerated by the media. For example the ridiculous idea that “Chinese people eat anything”. Chinese people in foreign countries are often asked “Do the Chinese eat absolutely anything” and the answer absolutely is not!

The Chinese Mainland has 1.386 billion people, 34 provinces, 56 ethnic groups, and 14 neighbor countries. China is a culture-filled place where every region, every provinces, every ethnic group has different traditions including eating habits.  And the fact is only a small among of people In the south eat what I think is weird food such as snakes, bugs, and thousand year old eggs. People in remote areas do not represent everyone in China. In Canada people eat Jellied moose nose and in England pies with fish heads staring at you. Does that make those countries weird?

Prohibiting browsing of foreign web pages. It doesn’t stop there. You can watch Chinese TV for weeks and never see a kiss or scene of passion. Teenagers deserve accurate portrayals of love and relationships. The government can’t just hide it on the screen. The more mysterious things are, the more attractive are, and with the less knowledge young people will more easy get hurt.

In a large-scale historical drama “The Empress of China”  the costume “loyal to the historical facts” exposed cleavage.  Accused of excessive exposure. Forced to re-edit. Otherwise no broadcast.  Although China’s traditional culture is very conservative, I believe in absolutely honest with history.

From a multi-angle point of view, China’s control social media has offered its citizens some benefits. With such an expansive and diverse population, if  speech is too free, people are prone to quarrels and even wars, making people’s lives lack security. Secondly, China has controlled the internal and international flow of information to develop its domestic enterprises, moving  700 million people out of poverty. This is a legend. No other country in the world has done this. Some accept sacrificing a little freedom in exchange for raising people’s economic level. Finally, blocking the foreign web can protect young people from being tempted, deceived, and agitated by unhealthy influences.

While I understand the government’s rationale-including that young people do not always have perfect independent thinking, I have to conclude that China’s abuse of citizens’ freedom has been deadly serious. And deadly wrong.

Weighing the benefits and cost, the relative freedom of the internet is very important.

China’s control over it is a failure of its responsibility to govern. How much knowledge is acquired by present and future generations determines the future development of our country. Internationalisation and open communication lets China see its shortcomings. The result? I predict a more informed, secure and tolerant China.


Works Cited:

  1. McDonell,Stephen. “How does the Chinese government censor your ideas.” BBC News, BBC, 16 Oct. 2017, Date of Access: March 19, 2019
  2. Seidel, Jamie. “Words Are Deadly. Winnie the Pooh Is Worse. Or so Chinese Censors Think.” NewsComAu, 28 Feb. 2018, Date of Access: March 19, 2019
  3. MailOnline, Dan Bloom for. “Viewers Complain That Censors Have Removed Cleavage from Chinese TV Show.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 5 Jan. 2015, Date of Access: March 19, 2019
  5. Kannan, Anirudh. “Here’s Why the Great Firewall of China Has Benefited the Country.” Young Post | South China Morning Post, Young Post, 12 Oct. 2017, Date of Access: March 19, 2019