China, the biggest communist country in the world and one of the countries with the worst record when it comes to personal freedom, is cracking down again this time when it comes to internet freedom. The heavy response by the China Communist Party is in part due to scheduled meetings in Beijing for the Party, the only political party in China.
“China’s internet connections service market has signs of disordered development that require urgent regulation and governance,” a statement released by the Ministry which oversees the internet read. The response is also another way of tightening the grips on who is allowed to offer VPNs, also known as Virtual Private Networks, which are used in the creation of new websites.
China’s government already has in place one of the greatest restrictions on internet freedom in countries where internet is available. Websites like Twitter, Facebook, and GOOGLE are blocked and websites that have any reference to the Tiananmen Square Massacre or any critical articles in references to the Communist Party are blocked as well.
China leads the leads the lists of countries who have the worst internet freedom. Following China are Iran, Syria, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan are the counties who make up the top five for worst internet freedom. On the opposite side, Estonia, Iceland, Canada, the United States, and Germany make the top five countries who have the best internet freedom.
Known as the “Great Firewall,” the reference has been used to describe the tough nature of the restrictions placed upon internet servers in China. China only has three internet service providers that are allowed to authorize the creation of internet websites, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. All three companies are under the control of the Chinese Government.
“This is a significantly escalated form of internet control and shows there is unprecedented urgency and desperation at the top of the government,” said Xiao Qiang, a professor at the University of Berkley who teaches internet censorship.
The response from the communist regime could be due to the fact that China saw its greatest increase in internet users in 2016, with 731 million people using the web. The growth in new technology also has played a role as smart phone and tablets challenge the government to broaden their technology for restricting websites.
The next national congressional meeting in Beijing will take place in the fall of this year. At the congress, the party will lay out its plans for the future. This will be the 19th Party meeting.
“Our restrictions target service providers without licenses or operating illegally,” said, Ministry of Industry and Information, spokesman Zhang Feng at a recent press conference. Over 3,000 sites have been blocked in China. Search apps have also bowed to the pressure, and have removed apps that help internet users outside of China who are traveling to China to get around the firewall.
In conclusion, people should remember that even though the China Communist Party has been modernizing with the times, the party still represents a heavy restriction on personal freedoms and a restriction on everyday life and should (even though it won’t happen) adapt a platform of personal freedom and liberty.
Links to Sources:
- The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/11/china-moves-to-block-internet-vpns-from-2018
- GreatFire.org: https://en.greatfire.org/
- CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/24/china-cracks-down-on-vpn-that-help-people-getting-around-its-great-firewall.html
- CNN: https://money.cnn.com/2017/07/25/technology/china-vpn-censorship/index.html