Behind the ‘Great Firewall’

Is censoring China’s internet as innocuous as censoring underage/ adult content? Personally I believe it to be an infringement of rights (generally a silly term bandied around these days, but in this case I think quite deserved).  We know the government is curtailing knowledge to retain support founded in ignorance, but should we intervene, or is it really none of our business?

CNN reported on Isaac Mao, a blogger brave enough to speak out on Chinese internet censorship.

Mao said,

“”I think the problem to the whole country is that if we censor more and more keywords, we will be stopping the country from more and more innovations,” said Mao, considered China’s “first blogger” and outspoken critic of his country’s online censorship. “I described it as a snake swallowing its own tail because the snake is trying to find the food and attack, but eventually he found his own tail.””

He’s right. Google have been having search engine and Gmail issues in China, and having troubleshot what they could at their end have reported there is a blockage on China’s end, despite denials in Beijing.

Mao reported, “There is no technical issue on our side; we have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail,” the company said in a statement. Beijing has denied it is behind problems with Google’s email service in China.

“I think the Chinese government is trying to slow down people’s communication, and is trying to slow down the speed of information flow in China,” Mao told CNN in an interview with Kristie Lu Stout. “They cannot block Gmail totally, at this moment, because millions of people are using Gmail. If it is found that the government did this, people will react even more.””

The government already block search terms including ”Empty Chair (signifying the Chinese dissident Liu Xiao Bo), sex, protest, Jasmine, Chinese human rights figure Teng Biao as well as American political figures such as Hillary Clinton.

While China is the world’s largest internet market with 457 million online users, few western companies have made inroads as top players such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked there, raising fears that China could become an internet island unto itself.”

As Mao said “The worst thing would be if China cut off the whole internet, and made itself into an intranet. We don’t want to see that day coming,” He said. “So we try to persuade the authorities that it will hurt the whole country’s development in the future, and the economy eventually.”

I don’t think we should intervene here…. haven’t we been up to enough in Iraq, Libya etc… but yes it is an injustice. Perhaps it’s just one we will have to sadly turn a blind eye to.



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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Business, Events, Multiculturalism, People, Politics, Law, Science, Technology


Digital and Comms nerd working in an INGO. PhD researcher (technology / gender / International development / fragile and conflict affected states / South Sudan). Bibliophile. Writer. Musician. Views my own.

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One Comment on “Behind the ‘Great Firewall’”

  1. March 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    China: The Internet Island. Has a nice ring to it.

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