The Impact of the ‘Great Firewall’: China’s Online Censorship System
The advent of complex internet networks and technology in China provides more avenues for the Chinese government to monitor and censor their citizens. The Chinese government justifies the digitization of their censorship program that restricts ‘netizens’, or Chinese internet users (Ronda, 2003), though the resulting personal and positional gain. The present study provides an overview of the Chinese censorship mechanics and the intentions behind the functional systems made by the Chinese authorities with a specific lens on new internet censorship models. The erect system use of political tactics and technology adoption is examined through the present study, where surveys and interviews consolidate the argument.
Internet Censorship in China
China is the most populated country in the world with the most encompassing internet censorship. Internet censorship is designed to regulate its residents from having access to foreign websites and world popular apps. Commonly known blocked websites and applications include ones owned by Google such as Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, but also popular foreign news sites such as New York Times and CNN are censored as well (Chen, Y., & Yang, D., 2019). The system is designed not only to block external sites but to censor sensitive information relating to politics or historical events. The majority of censorship comes from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which “restricts unfavorable reports” from the public. The CCP, through the Chinese government, has been installing a system of “dredging and blocking” (shudu jiehe 疏堵结合), “a combination of guiding public opinion and banning news reports”. The CCP created the Central Propaganda Department (CPD) and the State Council Information Office (SCIO) to oversee internet censorship. Under their authority, information restrictions are placed upon media platforms (King, G., Pan, J., & Roberts, M. E. 2014).
Over the course of time, the Chinese government strengthened their information regulations with the cooperation of China’s Ministry of Public Security. This allowed the government to create a censorship program called ‘The Great Firewall’, a combination of legislative action and software. This program allows the government with its surveillance to take control of informational flow in internet media platforms. The system allows for monitoring and controlling individual internet users by blocking access to certain websites, bandwidth throttling, and keyword filtering (Chen, Y., & Yang, D. Y. 2019).
The system is being used to monitor individuals’ internet usage and the “netizen’s actions”. The government, through the CPD and SCIO, monitor social media sites to detect any suspicious activities or behavior. Website administrators hire thousands of censor workers to screen individual’s conversations held online and to delete unfavorable posts on social media. Additionally, the system uses an automated keyword filter which detects sensitive words and prevents texts or posts on social media to be viewed by the public. The system will italicize any text and message containing restricted words. The red lines that never should be crossed includes vocabularies, phrases, or Chinese Characters relating to Chinese province separation movements, democracy, and political reformation, human right activists, historical events, and many others (Tai, Q. 2014). Internet users and journalists or any others who occupy online platforms have to be aware of the ‘red line’ to avoid any penalties. Simply put, the automated keyword filter functions as “review first, maybe publish later” (King, G., Pan, J., & Roberts, M. E. 2014).
The system is dynamic, meaning local, provincial, and national authorities are assigned specific purposes to keeping control of informational flow. The CCP implements broad control, but allows for local censorship monitoring officials to implement local control, leading information manipulation to decide what is made public. The system created within the government to take control over media after the arrival of the “information age” (Tai, Q., 2014) or so called ‘World of Internet’ involves the history of the Internet and censorship formation in China. Ultimately, the government controlling the media in this new technological age allows the CCP to control a far broader range of information from an individual’s personal data to business information and economic data.
Recent censorship history leads back to 1958 when ‘traditional broadcasting media,’ a government owned China central television from 1958 to 1978 known as ‘Beijing television,’was the main source of information for events happening across the nation. After 1978, before the arrival of the internet, CCP began a radical reform in the media industry. The CCP started depending on the media to gain sources to deliver rhetoric and collect public support from across the nation.
Brief History of Censorship
Since the internet was introduced in China 1991, the CCP has used a stronger censorship system to keep its citizens away from unfavorable information. The Internet was first used in China by the government security in the year of 1994. The first and second censorship policies were implemented in 1996, forcing all IPSs to go through the government’s approval and Ministry of Public Security, which defined “good and bad” in contents on the internet. In 1997, when Zhu Entao, Ministry of Public Security leaked the state secrets to the public, China built the “Great Firewall of China” to domestically regulate internet access to foreign websites (Flew, T., 2015).
In 2000, younger citizens started using the internet and making posts in social media. From 2002 onward, because of these ‘netizens’, CCP placed tighter restrictions on Google and other major sites. According to the report from Boas and Kalathi in 2003, beginning in the 2000s, one-party rule was challenged by internet users (Flew, T., 2015). Under the authority of the Ministry of Public Security in the development of the censorship on the internet has created the umbrella Golden Shield Project, which includes the Great Firewall, to be used since 2003 to block and censor the majority of unfavorable information from outside the country (Chen,Y., 2019). The independent source, Google China, was created, as a filtered Google, by the government in 2005.
Later, Chinese censorship actions would become stronger. In 2009, China sought approval to download a program called Green-Dam Youth, a content control software, into all computers manufactured in the country. In the same year, Sina corporation launched Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media that functions similar to Twitter. With the release of “Internet Sovereignty 2010”, a policy which requires internet users in China to agree to obey Chinese internet policy regulations, the CCP forced foreign organizations and individuals in China to abide by Chinese law (Xu, B. 2017). WeChat, a social media application which is significantly used among people around the world, was launched in the year of 2011. The following year, Chinese people were forced to hand their real names to Internet Service Providers (ISP), allowing the Chinese government to track internet users. By 2013, China was recognized as the world’s largest internet using country with an estimated number of 500 million netizens (Flew, T. 2015).
In the following year of 2014, China cracked down on Virtual Private Network (VPN), which allows people to break the censorship in the internet and to have access to blocked websites. From the year 2016 to 2017, China’s government issued a new censorship policy requiring news content publishers in all forms of digital media to obtain a license. In the year when the policy was made, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced that approximately thirty-eight journalists were imprisoned in China.
The restrictions on information made it more challenging for human activists or journalists to hold the government accountable for mistakes and advocate for higher standards of individual freedom. For the CCP, the internet is both threatening and a technology tool that can be used for greater economic growth. Examples of the economic success from the internet in China can be seen from companies such as Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, and Sina, which have managed to take a stronger position in the Internet market, taking control and achieving far more power in China than with Western companies.
Before discussing a Chinese censorship models and the contents of the present study, we must first define two terms that play a role in the CCP’s decisions regarding censorship and state control. “Governmentality” is a combination of the phrase “government and rationality” created by Michael Foucault. The term is defined as a system in which the policy is ruled, which means it identifies the mechanics of this robust process encapsulated by the “creation of a government” (Lemke, 2002). Broadly explained, this idea is related to the way the collective but changing mentalities of government and authority rule the people and decide the regimes of practices that govern a country. However, keeping with his view, the term instead encompasses institutions, methods, and thoughts as well. More specifically, Foucault defines the term as safety, region, the population as providing for the complicated structure of “force which has the population as its objective, the political system as its major form of knowledge, and apparatuses of safety as its important technological tool” (pp.107–108). In another way, Foucault defines governmentality not just to discover the new logic in government, but as a further trend in Western history that has led to it. The purpose of governmentality is inspired by Foucault’s previous writings and firmly embedded in second-stream beliefs of state. Underlying this purpose of governmentality is how people are influenced to regulate themselves, the concept of power that is scattered throughout the population. It is the way individual people regulate themselves by the existence of individuality and the idea of “self”. Governmentality allows for governing by instilling training in people through the presence of agents to be employed in contemporary political and economic institutions. In that sense, the government is seen through practices which authorities form and reshape people’s knowledge of those potential and the impossible. When people or groups adhere to the norms at which they are embedded, they self-regulate their activities, their perceptions, and their beliefs according to those norms (Dean, 2014).
The term “ideology” is used as an investigation of differing political beliefs and views of cultural groups. Karl Marx situated the term within class conflict and dominance but others perceived it as a critical role of institutional functioning and cultural integration (Tanabe, 2018). It is because some describe the criticism as meta-ideology, the examination of the composition, shape, and expression of ideology. New criticism proposed this ideology as a logical system of thought that relies on fundamental assumptions relating to reality that can or cannot have any factual basis. Although, it argues that opinions which turned into ideologies can form into logical or repeated patterns through personal choices people make and the action serves as spreading more ideas which can grow from it (Tanabe, 2018).
The basic understanding of the censorship power in China and its identified positive and negative impact on the society, by holding its citizens behind the digital barriers, will allow an investigation into intentions behind such systems. The following research questions are implicated and are examined throughout this paper in the literature review section.
What is censorship, and how does censorship in China work?
How is the CCP capable of regulation policy to keep residents from certain information?
What are the predictable purposes of the Chinese government placing censorship on their social media platforms?
What does the CCP identify from influence from foreign countries upon their people?
Does online censorship encourage residents not to be involved in political activities?
The research question for the primary source for the study is intended to investigate social media usage and change in attitudes with individuals who engage with the outside world:
How do people living in the country feel about censorship?
How aware are China’s residents and citizens about this matter?
What is the majority of the Chinese attitude toward censorship?
How has online censorship shaped a convenient society for people and the government?
Political Strategy in China: Purpose of Censorship Adoption
In China, censorship adaptation is considered as a tool of protection and providing safety to people. Commonly, the information revolution has been feared by leaders of the Chinese government, but Chinese leaders made a conscious judgment that harnessing the benefits of the information revolution was crucial to the development and rise of China. The information revolution leads the country to fulfill its goal but use censorship adaptation in its online society to reduce any political inconvenience (Rosen, 2010).
In the literature paper by Jin Chen, Lagerkvist (2008) has explained the situation where political leaders and intellectuals in China views citizen’s attitude toward foreign culture as a threat to the regime, or as “dangers of the Internet”. Additionally, many Chinese writers fear the destruction of Chinese traditional culture under the internationalization of communication, mostly through American electronic invasion of Western values. Therefore, China’s effort in media censorship is led by the concept that foreign culture is a negative influence on Chinese culture and the youth must be protected by China. Shie’s explanation on the internet plays a vital role in political transformation in the specific term of freedom and democracy, but the internet also increases access to information, freedom of expression, governmental transparency, opportunities for citizens to inform officials of their political views, and surveying public opinion (2006). The literature suggests that the country is providing its people with enough freedom, which benefits people with their living in China (Chen, J. 2019).
Generally, censorship is the suppression of ideas and words that a particular group of people find offensive or destructive. The government of China watches over the traditional and the new media to hold on to its authority. This includes policing the media using firewalls and filtering devices, banning newspapers, blogs, or even jailing journalists who seem to be inciting citizens against the government. For example, the CCP deems social media sites such as Facebook as dangerous, which explains why they remain blocked in China (Elizabeth, 2018). In China, the primary purpose of censorship is for political reasons to maintain control over its population and silence opposition.
According to King et al. (2013), the Chinese government aims at suppressing dissent posed against it, as well as pruning any human expression which sees faults in the policies, leadership, or the elements of the Chinese state. This is geared towards making public opinion more favorable to the government. Secondly, they censor people who seem to be joined together by a common goal, whose stimulation is not from the government itself, but can generate collective action. This explains why social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, are blocked. Apart from the political reasons for censorship adoption, censorship is aimed at reducing the impacts of hate speech in the society and protecting the children from unhealthy content, such as pornographic content (Xu & Albert, 2017).
Practice of Self-Censorship in China
Self-censorship of the press is the non-externally coercive acts by media outlets aimed at preventing offending power holders like government, advertisers, and significant businesses. This poses a substantial threat to the freedom of the press in many countries worldwide. For example, according to Lee & Chan (2009), of the journalists interviewed on matters of self-censorship in 2007, 58% of them claimed that the prevailing self-censorship conditions were worse than how they were ten years before. In Hong Kong, while not written down, there are what are called taboos, which are items that ought not to be mentioned on air.
In the newsroom, instead of being dictated upon what to and what not to say while preparing a story, the lower-level journalists and staff learn about taboo rules by watching the workings of more seasoned journalists, chattering with their colleagues and paying attention to new decisions taken in the newsroom. To exert control in their news organizations, the owners hire and fire the top-level editors. According to Lee and Chan (2009), another way that media practices self-censorship is through understanding the journalists’ feelings towards different aspects of life, and assigning them stories to minimize conflict. For example, a journalist who does not support faster democratization refrains from writing a story of pro-democratization, because the bias would come up in the article, hence putting himself in danger.
The CCP Justification to Adopt Censorship
Rakesh Kumar discusses some positive outcomes within Chinese youth with the prevention of foreign cultural influences: “It has greatly impacted the values, thought, and attitude of the youth, resulting in diversification towards Utilitarianism, individualism, money worshipping.” The article states that western influence has a negative effect on Chinese youth, including “disillusionment” and “hampering the mental health” of the adolescents (Kumar 2018). This is a common argument from the CCP to justify their censorship of Western internet content.
However, there are some negative impacts of social media and information restriction in China on its citizens. The tools for political dissidence are effectively blocked and controlled by China, preventing its citizens from advocating for broader individual freedoms. In the literature examining works of David Yang and Yuyu Chen, Ford suggested that “censorship is key to the popular support and stability of these regimes.” The statement shows of how censorship is assisting the government in taking control of its people and stabilizing its economics and society. People living in China, over time, will lose the intention and realization of the significance in the action of getting involved with politics and government. Evidence from field experience conducted by Yang and Chen shows the impact of censorship, leading students to lack knowledge of essential events relating to their government and country. The experiment of exposing students with censored information results in creating a shift in their behavior and attitude (Yuyu. David 2019).
Digitalization Perceptions of the CCP
The Chinese government, according to McKune & Ahmed, has been in the forefront in tapping the benefits that are associated with digitalization more so in the economic sector and in the ambition of attaining soft powers unlike countries like the former Soviet Union which was frightened by the revolution of communications and restricted the accessibility and availability of modern communications innovation. According to Chang, the Chinese authority understood that engagement of the Chinese government with other countries of the world and the introduction of the latest and modern technological tools could be managed and controlled successfully in China. However, in order to retain control, Chinese authorities have put several measures in place to manage and control it. This action results from the ideology of mixed communism, which allows for limited democratic ideals, but under a one-party rule (Chen & Yang, 2019). Digitalization also affects the economy, where the digital economy refers to the incorporation of internet-based technologies into all aspects of an economy. The global competition of reduction of cost in productions, communications, and transport resulted in an understanding of the digital economy by the Chinese government, and this led to its embracing and protection.
Current research studies strongly support arguments that the online censorship usage leads to negative impacts on its society regarding Chinese citizen’s freedom of speech and attitude change toward China’s government. However, further studies measure its central tech society development in China, suggesting that there are some advantages in the system of censorship on global applications, which leads to the creation of an original application with better functions to the community. Benefits may include construction of new job titles from China’s interconnected online platform (He, Pedraza-Jiméne 2015).
How CCP Takes Advantage of New Technologies
With the restriction on social media and information, the ability to freedom of speech becomes a difficult task for people in China. With China placing a censorship system Great Firewall, it eliminates chances for individuals or groups to express their opinion on politically sensitive topics. The Great Firewall provides control on a bigger scale from physical to digital. The software obliterates any possible collective activity or politically offensive conversations to be held online. The Great Firewall monitors conversation or discussion held in private messages and can identify politically sensitive topics and will be considered as a violation in the context of internet usage. Multiple violations will lead to account takedown or will be given with governmental alert (Bei Qin, David & Yanhui, 2017). In the case of a chat application, once the violation has been made in action, the user can no longer register nor create a new account. Unawareness of event news relating to the Chinese government is problematic considering how the restriction of information can control Chinese citizens to shape their opinion based on the government’s desire. The Chinese government uses external pressure called “collective punishment” to make its people obedient (Bei Qin, David & Yanhui, 2017).
Media censorship is still applicable to the Chinese government since it has been at the forefront of managing and controlling the kind of information being published in the online platforms. The coming and introduction of the new technology have made it easy for the Chinese Peoples’ Party to collect people’s data, thus making it easy for them to censor their information or to monitor individuals. In 2007, for example, the Chinese government commenced reaching into more communication channels targeting the pluralistic exchanges. Further, in August and September, the same Cyberspace Administration of China issued a stipulation targeting forums of public discussions requiring their operators to inaugurate a mechanism, which links accounts to proper identification in an effective system to review posts before publicizing them. The new technology resulted in the introduction of modern ways of transacting and payments in a business requiring data collection and sharing (Kozłowski, 2018). This results in the CCP taking advantage of the personal data provided to control and manage information through censorship.
Chinese Citizen’s Digitalization Perspectives
People living in China are experiencing excellent and convenient transactions since people are given an option of the cashless transaction through mobile and other digital payments from new and modern channels of retails such as mobile and internet commerce (Knudstorp et al. 2017). These modes of payments have developed to address particular needs like ticketing of public transport, payment of parking fees, vending machines, among others. According to Lewis, these payments require one to provide a bio and personal data that requires his or her easy identification. During this period of COVID-19, the Chinese government has partnered with the banks to facilitate cashless to minimize the spread of the virus. The advent of the so-called ‘cashless society’ is possible from Chinese investment into the development of necessary technologies. However, the biodata provided is also used to track individuals contacted by the government.
Not only China’s new internet is creating a new type of social space to its users, but it is reconstructing social relations and driving civilian forces into many new possibilities. Javier C. Hernández and Iris Zhao explain that China creating its version of online sources leads citizens to a better and convenient society for individuals’ lifestyles. The creation of a simplified Chinese version of its platforms such as Twitter, Youtube, Musically, or even LinkedIn, to restrict global source usage as the world becomes more interconnected online (Javier C. & Zhao Iris 2018)
Chinese citizens have embraced digitalization with a lot of positivity because of the advantages it poses to them. For an extended period, Chinese citizens have been experiencing intimidations, censorships, and control of what they need to say and publish for people to see. The government has been running on propagandas and not the truth of information. According to Mittal, with the coming of the new technologies, the majority of the Chinese citizens have been more optimistic about the benefits that the internet through digitalization has provided unto them more so concerning the future of the country’s democracy and democratization of institutions. According to Li, the introduction of new technologies has resulted in the development of the citizen’s unofficial freedom, which involves online activism, and it is the most vibrant stuff currently. These online activism marks have resulted in the expansion of citizen democracy at the grassroots level. Chinese have experienced a convenient mode of transacting and conducting businesses through digitalization. Therefore, their feeling towards digitalization has been motivated by the benefits that they have accrued from it. Moreover, according to Zhao, the Chinese business community, more so the blogging and the internet users, agree on the significance of freedom of expression, and they perceive this new technology as a strength and power for democratization in China. Also, in China, the youths are using social networks platforms to make friends with new like-minded folks across the globe (Zhao, B 2017).
The methodology for the present study consists of field surveys and interviews given to Chinese citizens or people living in China who have engaged with the censorship system. The participants in the study are separated into two groups: a survey group and an interview group. The survey group participants are people who live in China; they were asked questions aimed to measure individuals’ frequency in global travel and social media usage relation to knowledge level in foreign popular websites. The survey was given to Chinese citizens in Kunming city, located in Yunnan province of China. The survey data was collected from a range of people including students, local employers, and housewives.
The interview group participants are Chinese citizens who, by the time the research was done, were living in the United States of America. The participants answered several interview questions to get Chinese people’s perspectives and views on the censorship system in China. For the personal privacy and participants security reasons, no identifications were asked for nor collected in the process.
Questions asked on surveys were intended to measure a participant’s knowledge in foreign websites based on the frequency in individual’s global travel and social media usage. Survey questions of this study are as follows:
- How often do you travel outside of China? (Never) 1 — -2 — -3 (Often)
- How often do you use social media? (Never) 1 — -2 — -3 (Often)
- How much do you know about foreign media platforms? **rate each from 1(Unaware) to 3(Aware), Facebook___/ Twitter___/ YouTube___/ New York Times___.
For the interview research method, interviews were given to Chinese current or graduated international students and Chinese faculty members living in the United States of America, specifically in the state of Virginia. Interviews were only conducted on participants living outside China for the case of personal protection and eliminating any possibility of danger for those revealing or obtaining sensitive information. Interview questions aimed to better understand the case from the perspectives of people who have had direct engagement with the system. The interview questions of this study are as follows:
- What are the noticeable differences between social media in the USA and in China?
- What is your personal opinion on information restriction on social media in China?
- How do you think social media censorship is helping China and its people?
- How do you think social media censorship is hurting China and its people?
Before presenting the results, a word on some limitations of the present study: the study above has not covered a significant number of participants to conclusively provide accurate data for its purpose. It is difficult to discuss the full perceptions from different ranges of people with varieties in their opinions for the main consideration of avoiding risks that may face individuals involved in the research who may face danger as a result of their participation. The analysis and data collected based on the study should be considered as evidence to support the contents of the study, but further research should more broadly investigate the findings of the present study to further grasp the diversity of attitudes of individuals in China.
Quantitative Data: Survey
The survey methods were conducted in the period between Jan. 4 and Jan. 10 of 2020, during a visit to Kunming city of Yunnan province in China. In the total of 20 surveys were collected. Graphs below provide a look into the survey results:
Graphs above show survey results based on travel frequency and social media usage. It also show the independent variables used in the method. For quantitative research data analysis, travel and social media usage was compared to the level of knowledge in foriegn websites in a Pearson’s R Correlation Test using the statistics software SPSS. The following tables present the results:
- Pearson’s r Correlations: Social Media Usage
Facebook r = 0.565*
Twitter r = 0.625*
Youtube r = 0.482*
New York Times r = 0.055
* indicates a significant result of p = .05 or less.
2. Pearson’s r Correlations: Global Travel
Facebook r = 0.747*
Twitter r = 0.492*
Youtube r = 0.609*
New York Times r = 0.179
* indicates a significant result of p = .05 or less.
According to the data, individuals who have experienced traveling or frequently traveling outside China seem to have more knowledge of Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, but not for the New York Times. Similar results show that usage of social media is correlated with knowledge of foreign websites. In other words, increased global travel and increased social media use are both individually positively correlated with knowledge of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube — as one goes up, so do the others.
Qualitative Data: Interview
The interview questions asked participants to share their knowledge and understanding of the restriction system in China. Selected interview answers are provided below:
Question 1: “What are the noticeable differences between social media in the USA and social media in China?”
Participant 2: “Chinese social media focus more about Chinese itself and less in international (even though there are, they are just a very small side of the world); USA social media is more international but more is western world”
Question 2: “What is your personal opinion on information restriction on social media platforms in China?”
Participant 3: “CCP did very well in brainwashing Chinese and their nationality. During coronavirus period, my high educated friends in China showed patriotic mood in supporting Chinese government decision. They have limited opportunity to see western voices and they all believe what the CCP told them — US is the source of virus and US is experiencing the hardest time in human history. China will save US — the oldest imperialist country. Some friends living in Canada, even if living in western countries, chose to listen and believe what CCP reported. This ‘patriotic’ or nationalistic mood has been cultivated for over 50 years.”
Participant 6: “People should be free to express and share information on social media. This is an important check in balance against a government abusing its power.”
Question 3: “How do you think social media censorship is helping China and its people?”
Participant 2: “It helps with our economy; a lot of different social media have their own company working behind of them, this for sure helps our employment and economic development”
Question 4:”How do you think social media censorship is hurting China and its people?”
Participant 2: “People in China might judge or accept whatever they see from Chinese social media, and many of these news are conducted in ways which authors want to show. Censorship limits the way Chinese people view the world and dice us only care about our own place”
Participant 4: “Less diversity. Harder to analyze problems from other countries’ point of views.”
In total 6 participants were interviewed including international students and faculty staff from China at a local college. Participants seem to be sharing similar opinions with views against the Chinese censorship system. Interview answers from all participants are summarized in the table below:
US vs. Chinese Social Media
Participant 1: Freedom of expression
Participant 2:Community focused
Participant 3:Freedom of expression
Participant 4:Freedom of expression/ appealing negative comments (for US)
Participant 5:Community focused
Participant 6:Freedom of expression
Opinion on Chinese Censorship
Participant 1:Not associated with social media
Participant 2:Wish in access to the global internet
Participant 3: Impressed with CCP tactics
Participant 4:Limited perspective, hard to learn some things
Participant 5: Inconvenience
Participant 6:Demanding for free expression
Advantages for China and people
Participant 1: Safety
Participant 2: Economy
Participant 3: Economy/advancement in tech culture
Participant 4: Protection of ideology
Participant 5: None
Participant 6: Safety/none
Disadvantages for China and people
Participant 1:Lack diversity in information
Participant 2:Creating closed mindset/separating from world
Participant 3:Creating closed mindset/threat to opposing political views
Participant 4:Lack diversity in information
Participant 5:Separation from rest of the world
Participant 6:Advantage only on Government.
A complete analysis reveals positive and negative results from censorship action in China. The process of development in China under capitalistic leadership systems while strong control is exerted on the people in China seems to be cynically successful in the situations where demands from the government have to be followed for the safety of its people. Although seen as suppressing the rights of journalism, to some extent, censorship by the CCP is essential and can be beneficial to the Chinese population. Through restriction, there is a reduction of hate speech in the country to a great extent. Censoring social media and the internet in general by the CCP, is claim to help protect the people, especially for youth from Western concepts and pornography. Additionally, by censoring some information that would ruin the face of the Chinese government, the CCP enhances and maintains the nation’s reputation in the global stage and does not let out any information that would otherwise be used against them. Finally, the CCP can secure the nation from both the internal and external threats through censorship.
The major consideration for the benefits of Chinese censorship appear to be costs borne by the Chinese people including restrictions on free expression, political opposition, and free flow of information. While the CCP can effectively protect its citizens from external or internal harm through its censorship and monitoring systems, the Chinese people do not have significant recourse to protect themselves from actions by the CCP. Often, the Chinese government, through censorship tactics, are able to shape the attitudes of its citizens and prevent growth of attitudes in opposition to the goals of the CCP, which are not always aligned with the interests of the Chinese people.
Conclusively, the present study provides evidence for the efficacy of censorship policies, as survey data shows that global travel outside China is positively correlated with knowledge of foreign social media. As the tech-culture evolves in China, with its adaptation of a cashless society and social credit system, people are forced to comply with policies of sharing personal identifications and being tracked with monitorizational system. Another globally threatening aspect of government in China is the international data collection made through social media applications or gaming applications based in China used by foreign users, where personal information being collected by Chinese authorities (Jenning, 2019) could be used for Chinese beneficial purposes in the future. However, powerful evidence relies on claims made by Chinese citizens regarding their experience of Chinese censorship and their personal perspective of the topic. Results from interviews of Chinese people living outside of China suggest that a small population of those outside China have recognized the restrictions as a problematic force rather than sincere intention of safety to the Chinese people. However, it also is possible that knowledge on foreign websites and global internet can be determined depending on the level in social class.
As Chinese censorship and monitoring policies evolve in the information age, the efficacy of the Chinese system will be further reviewed. Future investigation should be placed on interventions that increase knowledge about foreign media sources and its impact on Chinese attitudes towards their government and government censorship policies. Furthermore, research should be made to analyze the impact that weaker restrictions of social media within the Chinese government may have on society in China to determine if a policy of lessened restrictions may improve the lives of people in China without posing a significant risk to the political stability of the Chinese government.
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