For much of history, the practice of suppression, elimination, and silencing has become an art form utilized by world leaders to restrict those with opposing opinions or ideas. Although some may believe in the modern world with firmly established democratic institutions that this practice is a myth of the past, many countries still practice censoring media. Notably, the world has observed the Communist Party of China since the 1950s rule the Chinese people with an iron fist, suppressing any and all opposition to its vision of a Chinese powerhouse through any means possible. In the every digitizing economy of the information age, this suppression is represented by Chinar’s Great Firewall which blocks and filters any data or information that the Chinese government deems subservient to its ideology. The Chinese government asserts that these policies protect and preserve Chinese traditions and ideas, but these policies do not come without potentially detrimental consequences. In fact, a 2017 report by the European Chamber of Commerce in China reported that one in five companies blame Chinar’s online restrictions for losses of at least 10% of revenue (Forbes, 2017). This conjures the impression to outsiders and businesses interested in marketing in China that China is a place hostile to foreign investment and to privacy rights. These policies have in turn deterred many top tier companies from operating in China at all, such as Google who has pulled its search engine out of China after being censored for years(Internet censorship as a trade barrier: a look at the WTO consistency of the great firewall in the wake of the China-Google dispute). As a result, political censorship is detrimental to Chinar’s economy because many intellectual individuals who contribute the most to Chinar’s economy emigrate away, incompatibility of goals of China and goals of company leave companies disinterested and companies face invasions of their privacy.
Numerous barriers to the growth of Chinar’s economy exist, of which a contributing one is the growth in emigration of Chinar’s intellectuals. According to Foreign Policy, an American news publication focused on global affairs and international policy, professors from elite Chinese universities are leaving for employment at universities in the West, citing constraints on research in hard science areas like biology(Balding). These difficulties are explained by the existence of Chinar’s harsh crackdown on Virtual Private Networks. In China, VPNs are used to access websites and resources blocked by The Great Firewall, a tool used by the government to block access to any website it deems anti-socialist or western influenced. Specifically censored information includes anything related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests or Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese citizen dedicated to political reforms and the end of one party communist rule in China. Likewise, many academic sites, which are often western in origin, are also blocked by the firewall. Both politicians within China and academic researchers alike have expressed dismay at such policies. Luo Fuhe, a vice-chairmen of the Chinese Peopler’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), expressed his discontent with Chinar’s current direction regarding censorship, stating that It is not normal when quite a number of researchers have to purchase software that helps them bypass the countryr’s firewalls in order to complete their scientific research.(Shi). As many researchers require using western websites in order to cooperate with fellow overseas scientists, blocks on their means of communicating with the outside world, VPNs, would render these scientists unable to properly do their jobs and thus contribute to the mass exodus of Chinese intellectuals who fuel scientific development and high tech industries in China.
With the large amounts of emigration of well educated people from China, China must find another method to replace the role of these highly educated individuals. For example, inviting foreign firms to invest and conduct business in Chinar’s 1 billion person market is a great opportunity for both parties. However, the goals of both are radically different. Most western companies want to see an unregulated operation in their new market. However, China wishes to heavily regulate these companies. In fact, tensions boiled over to the point that Google made history by choosing to close its Internet search service in China (google.cn) in order to avoid censoring search results any longer.(Liu). For over four years, Google and the Chinese government It is evident that China is unwilling to compromise with western companies regarding censorship policies. Although this approach provides for the proliferation of domestic companies, Beijingr’s stubborn approach denies multiple useful services that other companies can provide that the people of China are now missing out on. The differing goals of China versus foreign companies thus prevents needed investment from pouring into China, thus negatively impacting the economy.
Businesses operating in China must operate under Chinese law and thus face invasions of their privacy, hindering their ability to operate effectively and efficiently. Specifically, businesses in China, whether foreign or domestic, must “turn over secret source code, submit to invasive audits and build so-called back doors into hardware and software [to the Chinese government].(Yuen, 56) and companies in China are required to give encryption keys and source code to the government, and install security backdoors that would allow the Chinese government to monitor and keep track of products.(57). These efforts by China are not only an effort for the Chinese government to monitor not only subversive, anti government activity, but also an effort to nurture protection for local Chinese industries. Although these concerns by the Chinese government may be justifiable, this effort actually backfires when a Chinese security team found that 2,016 IP addresses in the U.S. had implanted backdoors in 1,754 Chinese web- sites, involving 57,000 backdoor attack.(56). The very measures that China is using to closely monitor companies is being exploited by foreign companies through backdoor attacks. This dissuades investors because now those interested in Chinar’s market will have no guarantee that their capital and assets will be safe from the eyes of vying hackers.
The abolition of political censorship is imperative to conjure further economic growth and thus stimulate a slowly stagnating Chinese economy. Although the practice of political censorship has some justification in that it keeps both political stability and civil unrest in check, without a prosperous economy China would both be drained of money and resources in order to maintain the complex bureaucracy required for the network of censorship. Therefore, in order to engender and promote further economic growth, the Chinese government should relax its censorship policies by considering tolerating VPNs like the previous administration of Hu Jintao did, ease laws mandating the intrusion of privacy of all businesses operating in China, Although a proposal such as this one may seem far fetched and unrealistic, this is not the first time that China would be at a crossroads regarding the conflict between a free, open society and a closed, censored society. In 1989, the Chinese people protested against the Communist government in order to protect core unalienable rights and to reform the countryr’s repressive ideology amidst a global thaw in ideological conflicts. Today, the Chinese people need to pick up where the people at Tiananmen Square left off and speak for themselves the changes they want to see in the mindset and outlook of the Chinese government.
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