Censorship of Digital Information in China

Censorship of Digital Information in China
Communication technology and information are reasonably called the driving force behind globalization, as they increase the opportunities for democracy development and human rights protection. On the other hand, they bring additional challenges for human rights advocates who act in the countries of repressive regime, including China (Walton).
The Internet, the instrument that “like anything else is just a tool and can be used for good purposes like liberation and democratization, and… used as a tool of repression” is continuing its development in China (McMahon). The words of Lloyd Axworthy, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, uttered in 1998 remain remarkably actual: “Technology is changing the equations of power, challenging the conventional channels of communication…the mouse is mightier than the missile” (Walton).
China is widely known for its historical tradition of censorship as well as its modern censorship system and the “Great Firewall of China” in particular, applied to for limiting data flow into and out of the country (Aycock). The strategy of the government is severely criticized by western countries and China’s billion-dollar investments into marshaling the technology and censoring the World Wide Web are regarded as forging a virtual sword that threatens “to block the county’s path to democracy” (Jian).
Economic growth in terms of globalization required modernization of the infrastructure of China and acquisition of advanced technologies from industrialized countries, however, the changes imposed new challenges on the repressive regime and significantly complicated the state’s internal security goals and the government’s ability to control the information flow (Walton). In China the principles of “state security” have always been used to punish free speech, independent organizing and information supply.
According to the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development, in China there exist no privacy rights and “government is not accountable through any legal process for the use of information obtained by its security apparatus via surveillance, wiretapping and online monitoring” (Walton). For the purpose of digital censorship in China, by the way, being the only country in the world to have numerous cyber-censors and cyber-police, a skilled mix of filtering technologies, cyber-police surveillance and propaganda are used (Tao).
Self-censorship in China is a common practice, thus, penalties are used for the websites that go too far and may range from criticizing the site to close down (Tao). Either before, after the publication of a report, or in the form of propaganda instruction the Chinese government frequently applies to the bans. Websites in their turn attempt at avoiding the bans and penalties and practice self-censorship by blocking “key words” (Tao).
According to a “China model” where terms of democracy and human rights are retained and redefined to serve the interests of the authorities, the Chinese Communist Party is frightened of its own citizenry as “rights consciousness” has lately escalated among the Chinese that undermines the authoritarian regime (Kurlantzick & Link).
The truth is concealed and Chinese citizens today have to live with “badly warped understandings of their own country’s past” and the whole story bears resemblance of the George Orwell famous dystopian novel (Kurlantzick & Link). So, the victims of censorship, the Internet users in China, rebel against the government’s “thoughtwork” and complain against hosting service providers, continuously try to elude censorship and gain access to freely reported news etc (Kurlantzick & Link).
The reality is far more severe than it is described in the CCP reports and Chinese continue to complain about pressing problems like corruption, wealth gap, thuggish repression and what not. The US and other democracies constantly remind China of the pitfalls of an authoritarian development model and the dangers it may bring in case of “successful” development (Kurlantzick & Link). The US, for instance, allotted 15 million dollars for developing anti-censorship tools and breaking electronic firewalls that are set up in China. The BBG provided funding to install proxy servers to assist Chinese Internet users in gaining access to censored information (Zissis & Baldwin). The example of Google that threatened to leave China because of censorship is only one drop in the ocean of consequences the “win-win philosophy” of China may lead to unless it easies its restrictions on the way to establishing real democracy.

Works Cited
Walton, Greg. “China’s Golden Shield”. International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development. 2001.
Mr. Tao. “Journey to the Heart of Censorship“, Reporters without Borders & Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Oct. 2007.
Kurlantzick, Joshua. Link, Perry. “Undermining Democracy – 21st Century Authoritarians”, Freeedom House. June 2009.
Aycock, John. Maurushat, Alana. “Good Worms and Human Rights.” University of Calgary, Oct. 2006.
Preeti. Zissis, Carin. Baldwin, Corinne. “Media censorship in China”. Council on Foreign Relations. May, 2010
Helft, Miguel. Barboza, David. “Google Shuts China Site in Dispute Over Censorship”. The New York Times. March 22, 2010. July 24, 2010.

Osnos, Evan. “Letter From China”. The New Yorker. June 11, 2010. July 24, 1020.

Ma, Jian. “China’s Internet Dictatorship”. The Korea Herald. May 18, 2005. July 24, 2010.

Censorship of Digital Information in China 8 of 10 on the basis of 1690 Review.