Once China opened its door to the world, it could not close it again
What if you could not access YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia? How would you feel if Google informed you that your connection had been reset during a search? What if Gmail was only periodically available, and Google Docs, which was used to compose this article, was completely unreachable? What a mess!
These things happen almost every day in China. If you are a foreign visitor to China, you could experience what NBA player J.R. Smith encountered: “Dear China, The fact that u won’t let me work my Skype on my desktop or Twitter is really pissing me off.”20 As software developer Tony Hunt said, “That was really the most frustrating thing, as I never knew whether the connection had just dropped or if the site was being censored.”15
Most of these problems are caused by GFW (Great Firewall of China, also known as GFC), one of the most important building blocks in China’s comprehensive censorship system, and perhaps the most sophisticated Internet censorship system in the world.12 The Chinese government can remove the “harmful information” or even punish its authors inside China. For information hosted outside China, however, the Chinese authorities can do nothing but block or filter access. Without censorship at the international gateway of the Internet, the traditional censorship systems are utterly worthless. This is why GFW is so critical for the whole system, and so important to the stability of the Chinese state. Continue reading →