Shattering the Great Firewall of China
The great firewall of China has been around for about as long as the internet in China. So what is the great firewall of China? How do you get around it, and what is the purpose? First, let’s take a look at what it is; the great firewall is a censorship system called The Golden Shield Project (金盾工程). Its sole purpose is to block websites and information that is deemed inappropriate by the CCP.
There are 3 main ways in which the system is controlled and operated. (1) IP blocking; (2) DNS hijacking; and (3) keyword content inspection/filtering. According to Open Democracy, there are only eight internet service providers in China, which allows the government greater control over what information is allowed into the country.
“China’s ‘Great Firewall’ (GFC) is among the most technically sophisticated internet filtering/censorship systems in the world… Its depth, scope, and capacity is certainly impressive. Basically, access to the internet in China is provided by eight Internet Service Providers, which are licensed and controlled by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. “These ISPs are important, because we’re learning that they do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of content filtering and censorship.”
How do you get around the Great Firewall of China?
Now that we have a better understanding of what it is and how it works, let’s talk about different ways to get around it. If you are a foreigner doing business in China or just traveling the great firewall can be a major headache and you will probably want to get around it. The easiest way to do this is by using a VPN (virtual private network) and there are many available. I have used a few in the past, so, I will share my experience.
When I first came to China I was a newbie and I didn’t know anything about internet censorship. So, my new friends provided me with a free VPN called FreeGate and that worked okay at first but after time it wasn’t cutting it for heavy internet usage.
My next step in internet freedom was Panda Pow. Panda Pow really was the next step, it worked better then FreeGate but I still had trouble watching YouTube videos and sometimes it had problems connecting to the outside servers.
It wasn’t until I moved to Beijing and started working for an IT company that I found a reliable VPN and decided to invest the money. Now days, I use Astrill and I have no problems accessing the internet.
What is the purpose of the Great Firewall of China?
The great firewall of China is a contradiction because the purpose is to protect the people and the government from harm. Some things that are considered harmful are adult sites, anything that displays the CCP in a negative light (Tiananmen, Tibet, Human Rights, etc.) and anything that can harm Chinese industries.
The reason I say it is a contradiction is because anyone that use Sina Weibo or other SNS in China know that adult content is not being blocked. Case in point: Brazzar which is an online adult site is not blocked in China. If you are in China feel free to look it up. (I will not provide the link here because I do not want to be affiliated with that type of site.) If you live outside of China and you want to check my facts click here and you can test any site.
Another, observation I have made is that here in China many people know what the CCP has done and are currently doing in regards to Tiananmen, Tibet, Human Rights, etc. So, that leads us to only one reason the government would block websites. This is a basic form of protectionism. The CCP has been trying to build Chinese internet brands and sites in order to profit for the rise in online commerce in China.
The CCP has effective blocked all major internet players and built major clones of the sites which has allowed Chinese based business to profit. If there is a major western site then there is a major Chinese clone. Examples: Youtube = Youku, Google = Baidu, Tweeter = Sina Weibo, Amazon = T-Mall, Facebook = RenRen (and others), PayPal = AliPay, the list goes on and on. When the internet boom and bust happened in the late 1990’s, China was not even on the map in terms of internet usage.
According to China Education and Research Network, “In July 1998, CNNIC issued the second Statistic Report on Internet Development in China. According to the report, by June 30, 1998, China had more than 542,000 PCs linked to Internet and 1,175,000 Internet users, 9,415 registered domain names of CN, 3,700 WWW web sites and 84.64Mbps of bandwidth for international outlets.”
This data makes it clear that while other companies were rising and falling in the west, China had barely begun to use the internet and in the early days most of the users where academic not consumers. By the time China became connected, in the last decade and with the help of mobile internet access, there were very few major online retailers or well established SNS, news sites, etc. to compete with western sites.
So, what did China do? The only thing it could do and the only thing anyone would do. They barred entry and promoted Chinese sites. This protectionism has allowed Chinese based sites to grow and now out preform many foreign sites. I previously wrote about romance in China and in that post I touched on an interesting article which is relevant now: “If you haven’t already read the story about Taobao selling $3 billion dollars’ worth of goods in one day then here is a good write up about it.”
The article is about Tabao (T-Mall) selling $3 Billion dollars’ worth of goods in one day. Think about all that money going to Amazon or E-Bay; if China had opened its internet boarders and let well established foreign sites onto the internet before building Chinese brands there could have been a major drain in capital. Amazon or E-Bay or any other site would have no need to keep that amount of capital in China and they would have moved it back to America or their home country. Alibaba the company that owns Tabao (T-Mall) is based in Hangzhou. So, the capital remains in China.
When you start to look at the Great Firewall of China in terms of economics, it starts to make more sense. I have always said that decisions are made based on self-interest and companies and government only have one interest which is turning a profit. Sites like Open Democracy are missing the point and they often miss the point on purpose in order to push their own agenda.
Many, many sites are trying to say the CCP is trying to keep the Chinese people ignorant but I feel this is not the point. The Chinese that are interested in knowing more about the “outside” world will find that information with or without the Great Firewall of China. My opinion is the Great Firewall of China is a program designed to protect and promote the Chinese IT sector.
Leave your opinions in the Comments below! I would like to know if anyone agrees with me or if everyone believes the CCP is trying to keep netizens ignorant.