Our country stands at the foreground of technological advancement and innovations. We have seen the effects this has had and how it has changed our society and culture. While it is now as important as ever to monitor the citizens on contentious topics, the government has gone overboard in its protective policies. If we take a look at how our culture develops around our laws, we will see that the messages still spread and with our current internet security restrictions, we are suppressing the expression of our people. Without this expression how can we conceive growth and harmony amongst the land? I am proposing a system which will continue the monitoring of important topics and the overall state of the people, but an end to complete restriction from other websites, keywords, and debates.
Although China’s constitution formally guarantees freedom of expression and publication and the protection of human rights (Article 35 Chinese Constitution) ; legal and administrative regulations ensure that the Chinese Communist Party will be supported in its strategy of strict supervision of all forms of online content. (opennet.net) You block what the government considers “undesirable.” The issue here is that desire is based on opinion, and so with your banning of certain websites, it appears as if you’re saying our opinion reigns supreme and the public doesn’t deserve the freedom and power of choice. So you have two choices here if you want to remain trusted: either change the wording of the constitution or cut down on these restrictions and go along with this proposal that can improve the nation in a number of ways. From the following support, my goal is to convince the government that it should abide by its own laid out rules legally defined in the constitution and therefore should eliminate the current internet restrictions in China.
The internet is in its 16th year of availability for the Chinese population and up to this point the national consensus is that their is too much regulation, and people want the ability to learn about what interests them. The government so far has done a solid job in taking away possible threats from this new age technological world, but at the same time our citizens are hungry for information. And not only that, but cultural expression is hugely important in any country and with our current standing we are suppressing the creative minds that are the future of our nation and of the entire world.
As far as creativity goes: with a 91% literacy rate, China has huge potential. The minds are out there and putting their efforts towards work that is deemed acceptable when they are missing out on a large chunk of the world around them. For countries like the United States, we can see how a larger exposure translates into more productive, more creative, and a more impactful culture. In China for example the Chinese culture of education at even the earliest stages stresses the mastery of technical skill, learning through mimicry, concentrated discipline – and the value of respectful conformity. (theglobalist.com) This is of course a list of important traits in our culture, however this has the youth society missing out on self-reliance, creative solutions and problem-solving skills: the traits that come from a wider range of exposure to varying cultures. Especially now since our most recent nation wide internet statistics are showing an emerging trend of internet use by a younger and younger group of the population. In the last three years the dominant age group in terms of internet usage in our country was the 20-29 range. However since 2008 we have seen the dominant group shift to the 11-19 range. (ChinaInternetWatch.com)
It’s not too often that our current day events have such large international impacts, but the internet is a place where we can change the world with the spread of ideas. This spread however is the factor that has stopped our nation from using its full potential. Of course there can be strict monitoring of websites to understand the cultural transitions but trying to control what exactly 400 million people can look at is too much control because it limits knowledge. Curiosity is definitely a good thing. It is the very beginning of all major innovations, but to restrict websites which in turn limits knowledge puts a dragging weight on the shoulders of the innovators, the creatives. The country of China has so much potential with its gigantic population, vast history, and varying cultures.
Not only this, economically; the power and money the government puts into this internet control with the 300,000 employees nationwide can be put to work for other projects that will positively advance China in other areas. As you are well aware, many economists speculate that China could become the world’s largest exporter within the next few years and the largest economy within the next few decades. To do this however, the government must be able to deepen economic reforms in regard to its inefficient state-owned enterprises, the state banking system, and fixed exchange rate system. There are also other challenges, such as pollution and growing income inequality that must be handled. With the money saved from cutting workers in the internet security sector, they can be transported to handling these aforementioned problems. If 250,000 workers are transferred from their current work to dealing with these economy affecting issues, China can quickly become a dominant economic power.
There is always a need for economic improvement in any country, but China can also use the money they save on transferring workers to put towards the betterment of education. Right now women on farms have almost no chance of getting formal education other than what they learn at home due to their poor financial standing. If we can put workers into the education departments, the income inequalities can be adjusted positively. An interesting thing to note here is that if China’s education sector wasn’t in need, then why would the majority of P.h.d seeking students head to the United States to obtain this academic achievement. A shift in focus towards these other economic hinderances can project a more positive overall image to outside countries looking in.
You must understand that every country has problems, be them big or small. You may think that you’re doing your country and its leadership a favor by restricting what gets released but instead people think that there is even more being covered up. It is almost impossible to block out information from spreading. So the story is going to get out, if there was a freedom of access and reporting, the facts would get reported as opposed to people wondering what was blocked out. It would make reporters happier, the public more informed..and therefore happier, and the rest of the world would feel more welcome and involved. … For example stories like this then come out and make everything ten times worse: “A month after the Olympics concluded, a scandal erupted over tainted milk products that killed six infants and sickened nearly 300,000 others. Information soon emerged indicating that provincial governments, central government agencies, as well as officials from the Sanlu group, China’s leading seller of milk powder, had either suppressed earlier reports of contamination or failed to act, likely at the cost of human lives.” (opennet.net) This goes along with the 2008 government’s Control 2.0 technique, they decided instead of trying to suppress the news, it would look better if they publicized the news first, and told the reporters what happened or what they wanted them to report what happened.
This again is just a temporary fix, problems will continue to happen and people will see them. While the government is doing a good job of suppressing these stories, or getting to the reporters first and telling them ‘what happened’: as technology improves the truth will spread faster and faster.
It is the 18-39 group that dominates the internet usage currently in China. It is shifting towards younger ages as well and at this rate the internet will fast become the number one source of knowledge for the public. Of course the government sees this and this fact has to be a leading reason for increases in censorship, but if people are trying to figure things out and feel like they are not getting the full story, they will naturally flow towards finding new ways to get it. … An example of this is the development of a new language that avoids the government censors. Here is an integral point of this essay: The public knows what they want to talk about, and they know that the internet is a perfect place for them to talk to other citizens like themselves about these topics. So when the government attempts to block any mention of certain topics, the netizens will use new language to communicate the same things. So now this means the public is still talking but the government is not catching it. Here is where again I propose a complete loosening of censorship but a continuing, if not heightened, monitoring.
Another good example of how Chinese citizens are finding their way around restrictions is with pirated movies. (Desser, 212) As Desser mentions in his essay, the Chinese people have an interest if not obsession with movies: and pirated VCDs are an easily accessible alternative to waiting for a movie to come out, or to get something that would otherwise not be promoted in their country. Not as though lessening restrictions will put a stop to this activity but this point is to show how people in general have alternative routes to getting the information or the pieces they want to see. And so instead of restricting these things, a government should be looking to capitalize on them. By promoting more movies even if they oppose the general message of the Chinese Communist Party, there is a lot of money to be made on something that will be seen by the public anyways.
One sector of the current regulations that hurts the nation and its people is that our internet security is unique relative to other countries due to the list of blocked keywords. It is understandable that there are certain terms that should alert the government’s attention. However at the same time, if people are trying to discuss a certain topic, they will use different words pertaining to the same topic. So I propose an end to this list of words that cannot be used. Instead, these certain words can still be monitored closely. This way the public will feel as though their thoughts are not being censored. They will therefore divulge information without worry of being caught. This can then allow the government to learn more about the current state of the public and at the same time they can still be watching and intervene if there is a threat to national security.
Basically, the censoring of topics may stop some, but to the intellectually inclined, they will find a way around this. This then forces them to be sneaky, or to do illegal things in order to get out their opinions. So a majority of the smartest citizens in China ( the ones who decide to delve deeper into important issues ) just because they are not preaching about every CCP endeavor; are effectively detained or they just can’t take it any more and go to a place where their voice can be heard. It is ignorant to think that it is anyone but the smartest, and most intellectual people who are having their words censored. Only the ignorant, those who don’t care, or those who don’t comprehend will be the ones freely allowing and encouraging censorship.
The “Golden Shield” project that was introduced in 2006 is something that can and should be maintained at least for awhile after censorship is reduced. Because it will be apparent pretty quickly whether the government will deem activities acceptable especially relating to currently censored issues. So we will be able to continue a high tech surveillance in case things began to spiral out of control. I would however recommend that while surveying the first couple months after dropping censorship that people need to get used to these new laws first. Because the netizens of China will have never experienced this sort of freedom there may be a few instances of overwhelming content, but after about half of a year it will fit into society in the same way it does with every other country in the world.
There will continue to be international pressure to open up restrictive practices and increase the public’s access to information. We are also coming to new technological ages that will be nearly impossible to stop certain information from being leaked to the public. So it is time that China loosened its censorship laws and see what the public thinks about current events in order to create a more harmonized country and one that other nations will see as more respectable and can open new possibilities for the nation of China, and the world.
China’s national and political culture has been very dynamic. In the last 100 years we have seen incredible change and there have been numerous movements to change/better society. A loosening of internet restrictions can lead to treating underdeveloped sectors of the economy. This will push Chinese culture along with the extremely broader range of knowledge to a more positive place in the rest of the world’s eyes. The problem with the censorship now is that it projects a negative image on western society. The goal of our government should always be to contribute toward better cultural changes, and this proposal addresses that approach in particular. A more modernized, diversified nation will continue to benefit from the aforementioned positive effects stemming from an end to the current internet restrictions. And since we will monitor our people just as closely, we avoid any worrisome threats to our culture. This proposal must now seem essential to our establishment as one of the top countries in the world culturally and economically.
Works Cited and Sources for Ideas
Desser. David. (2005). “Fists of Legend: Constructing Chinese, Identity in the Hong Kong Cinema”. In Lu, S. and Yeh, E. (ed.) Chinese-language film: historiography, poetics, politics. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Fu, Rocky. “China Internet Statistics 2009.” Upload & Share PowerPoint Presentations and Documents. CNNIC. Web. 03 May 2010. .
Haiqing Yu (Dec. 2007) “Blogging Everyday Life in Chinese Internet Culture”, Asian Studies Review, Vol. 31, pp. 423-433
“Internet Censorship – Law & Policy around the World.” Electronic Frontiers. 28 Mar. 2002. Web. 01 May 2010. .
Reporters Without Borders: China Annual Report 2008
HYPERLINK “http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25650&Valider=OK” http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25650&Valider=OK
Wang, Stephanie. “China | OpenNet Initiative.” ONI Home Page. OpenNet, 15 June 2009. Web. 02 May 2010. .