Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Future of Internet Censorship

Information Industry is becoming increasingly important in modern society. Online communication provides an effective way for information exchange, which has been absolutely critical to potential commercial development in China. Moreover, with growing democratic awareness, more and more middle-class citizens tend to request the guarantee freedom of expression. Therefore, ongoing economic development, industrialization, urbanization would lead to great changes in Internet censorship in China. The State would relax restriction and control on the Internet to ensure the stable regime and further development in China.

On the other hand, under the pressure of globalisation, Chinese government may reduce the limitation of Internet to attract more overseas investments. It is believed that the emerging need for foreign capital outweigh the strict adherence to existing censorship policies. Current censorship system may cause the misunderstanding that Beijing is taking measures to hinder the development of Internet; foreign companies may take more conservative attitude towards the entry of Chinese market. In other words, the control of online communication is a contradictory action of national interest in economic development. Therefore, the State has to open up a broader path for global Internet companies.

In addition, political impacts would facilitate the change of Internet censorship. A large number of non-governmental human rights organizations argued that the abuse of human rights partly attributed to the censorship regulations. This opinion would bring a negative impact on Chinese international image. Furthermore, western countries such as America stated that the improvement of online environment in China had become a transnational issue that may influence the relationship and cooperation between China and the outside world in the future.

Since the open-door policy was released in 1978, China has shown great attempts at establishing the democratic government. Existing centralised bureaucratic censorship system, as a remarkable product of monopoly, may reduce the effect of those positive administrative efforts.
To sum up, in order to take the advantage of economic globalisation and release the pressure from domestic public opinion and international community, Chinese government should take responsibility to promote the evolution of Internet censorship system. Otherwise, it would be extremely difficult for the Communist Party of China to manage and overcome the following challenges from different aspects effectively.

The Battle between Google and Chinese Government

The shutdown of Google in China is one the biggest news in 2010. Almost all of major media groups in the world were involved in this case; and they provided totally different views and arguments.

Most of western analysists argued that the strict Internet regulation is the main reason for Google’s action. Indeed, the Internet censorship in China has been discussed for a long time in the world. International Internet companies that decide to enter the Chinese market have to face the complicated censorship system. So called nondemocratic rules bring negative influence on the expansion of their business in China. Despite the huge gap between the transnational, decentralized nature of Internet and the bureaucratic censorship system in China, foreign players have to make essential compromises to maintain the market position in China. However, it is still extremely challenging for them to ensure their products are allowable in China. As a result, the company like Google tends to take a strong attitude towards the current censorship framework.

On the other hand, Chinese journalists believe the commercial failure and political pressure cause the shutdown. Google did not achieve perfect performance in the Chinese arena. Google fails to gain a better position to compete against the largest local search engine, Baidu; the commercial profits are much less than desired results. Moreover, it is reported that American statesmen could influence the Google’s decision-making because of the relationship between officers and Google’s employee. Therefore, the assumption of Chinese media is not completely unreasonable.

No matter what is the actual reason for the withdrawing, the Google’s case would surely exert a significant influence on the future of Internet in China. Although Chinese policymakers would not promote a fundamental reform of Internet censorship, leaders could not ignore the following impacts. The despotic style of censorship may be criticized by global human rights organisations; the international image of China would be blemished. In order to minimize the negative effect of Google’ case, the adjustment of censorship has to be placed on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ’s agenda, at least the State has to make a visible effort to reduce the limitation of Internet.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dissidents under the Internet censorship

Internet provides a great opportunity for dissidents to communicate with each other in China. It is reported that more and more troublemakers such as Falungong practitioners, Tibetan activists tend to gather banned information and organize illegal activities through online networks. Moreover, the rapid development of Internet brings the support from overseas activists and non-governmental organizations to domestic dissidents.

No doubt, these anti-government groups have seriously threatened the prosperity of the country. Internet has become a new tool that could help them to break through current legal system. Furthermore, the spread of online communication would increase the difficulty that Chinese Communist Party controls the trend of public opinion. It is almost impossible for Internet police to monitor the large number of Internet users; dissidents are easy to distribute the unhealthy information without the notice of authorities. For example, current firewall could not prevent the appearance of spamming.

Therefore, it is necessary for Chinese government to take strong authoritarian measures to maintain a stable Communist regime. Especially in terms of Internet, the State has to take responsibility to improve the censorship system to ensure the online security; Internet should be regarded as an essential way for the government to monitor and repress the illegal activities.

The high-tech solution may be effective for the State to manage the cyberspace. Instead of traditional measures such as surveillance, the government could enhance the investment on the project of hacking or disinformation, which may destroy the process of unauthorized communication in the cyberspace and give a serious warning to those troublemakers. Without the base of modern technology, it is challenging for censorship system to mitigate the threats from dissidents.