Internet Censorship in China - Recent Developments and Perception of Internet Censorship by Chinese Internet Users

  • With the launch of economic reforms and the opening up in 1978, China started to catch up with the industrial nations. During the 1980s and 90s great importance was attached to the development of the science and educational sector. Development of the first Chinese intranet and connection to the internet became a key to developing science and economy. In 1987 the China Academic Network (CAnet, Zhongguo xueshu wangluo) was established. In the same year the first e-mail was sent from China to the University of Karlsruhe. Full access to the interneWith the launch of economic reforms and the opening up in 1978, China started to catch up with the industrial nations. During the 1980s and 90s great importance was attached to the development of the science and educational sector. Development of the first Chinese intranet and connection to the internet became a key to developing science and economy. In 1987 the China Academic Network (CAnet, Zhongguo xueshu wangluo) was established. In the same year the first e-mail was sent from China to the University of Karlsruhe. Full access to the internet was gained in 1994, and it took four more years until the internet business was booming. The growth rate of internet users is tremendous, and China soon will have the largest online community in the world. In January 2008 China had about 210 million internet users, being only second to the United States with 215 million users. Analysts often forget that Chinese internet users only constitute a small percentage of the population (about 16% in December 2007). The internet penetration rate compared to countries like the USA or Japan (both above 65% in July 2007) is still very low. The internet market will grow as a large part of the population still is not connected to the worldwide web, especially in the rural areas. But it should be kept in mind that today’s surfers still represent an elite. A large proportion of internet users (about 36.2% in 2007) hold academic degrees, while persons who enjoyed tertiary education only make up for 6,22% of the populace. Besides economic aspects, western analyses often stress the aspect of censorship. Involvement of Western companies in content control and imprisonment of ‘cyber dissidents’, like Shi Tao, have been topics of discussion for a long time. Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International have recommended China to respect its citizens’ freedom of speech. The USA, Germany and France have criticised China for its censorship policies. According to a proposal passed in February 2007 the European Union might consider internet censorship a trade barrier. This could affect future negotiations with the PRC. Literature on internet censorship in the PRC still holds the view that the Chinese government has successfully build a solid firewall, which can only be circumvented by using special software. Others hold the opinion that a system as complex as the internet cannot be censored in an effective way. As Bill Clinton put it once, trying to control the internet would be like ‘trying to nail Jello to the wall’. Some are overly enthusiastic in regard to the possible impact which the internet might have on the process of democratisation, by stressing the importance of its ‘feedback functionality’ and the influx of foreign body of thought. Imperfect control would lead to a more open public discourse, which would eventually lead to the fall of China’s authoritarian regime.The first part of the thesis will examine the status quo of internet censorship in the PRC. Mechanisms which the Chinese authorities employ to censor the web will be examined, but the focus will rest on the non-technical aspects internet censorship. It will be explored how mechanisms of censorship are becoming increasingly indirect, alongside taking a look at regulations and codes and the news monopoly of the Chinese state and its agencies, like Xinhua. The second part of the thesis will examine user’s reactions to internet censorship, how they adapt to it, and if they circumvent technical barriers, or if they are aware of the existence of internet censorship. Special attention will be paid to self-censorship and self-seduction, by taking a look at online behaviour. To better put into perspective the topic of internet censorship I will use the concept of Panopticism, mediated by Michel Foucault, as well as media theories by Chomsky and Herman. The paper is based on articles and research papers, surveys, as well as online articles and papers. Online articles are used throughout the paper because of their timeliness and availability, as the latest changes in China’s internet censorship cannot be found in traditional papers and articles.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author: Florian Thünken
URN:urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-34445
Document Type:Bachelor Thesis
Granting Institution:Universität Würzburg, Philosophische Fakultät (Histor., philolog., Kultur- und geograph. Wissensch.)
Faculties:Philosophische Fakultät (Histor., philolog., Kultur- und geograph. Wissensch.) / Institut für Kulturwissenschaften Ost- und Südasiens
Referee:Dr. Flora Sapio
Date of final exam:2008/06/30
Language:English
Year of Completion:2008
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 32 Politikwissenschaft / 320 Politikwissenschaft
GND Keyword:Benutzerverhalten; China; Internet; Zensur
Tag:Censorship; China; Internet
Release Date:2009/03/04

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