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									CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

                    Internet Censorship in China

                        CSC540: Individual project

                               Shipeng Xu

                              April 24, 2011
CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

                               Internet Censorship in China

       The Internet censorship in China has always been a controversial issue over the

past few years. Different people have different opinions on this matter. Some say it is

ethically wrong and totally not acceptable, while others say that they are okay with it.

After much consideration, I think Internet censorship in China is ethically wrong but

works for the country. I will explain my opinion later on in this essay.

       First of all, let’s find out what makes Internet censorship in China so special.

Censorship in China is conducted under a wide variety of laws and administrative

regulations. In accordance of these laws, more than sixty internet regulations have been

made by the Chinese government, and censorship systems are vigorously implemented by

provincial branches of state-owned ISPs, business companies, and organizations. The

censorship in China is among the most stringent in the world. The governmental

authorities not only block website content but also monitor the internet access of


       Here are some incidents of Internet being censored.

       In the year of 2003, a project named “Golden Shield” was implemented by the

ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China. It’s also known outside of

China as the Great Firewall of China. Its goal is to construct a communication network

and computer information system that capable of blocking content by preventing IP

addresses from being routed through. The system consists of standard firewalls and

proxy servers at the Internet gateways and thus helps the police to improve their

efficiency (Michael).
CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

        In addition to its massive firewalls and software, the government employs

thousands of paid Internet commentators who act as supporters of the government by

posing good stuff about the government. Known derisively “50 cent party” members,

these shapers of public opinion are often paid 50 Chinese cents a posting.

        In December 2008, a pro-democracy movement led by highly regarded

intellectuals, released an online petition calling for an end to the Communist Party’s

monopoly on power. The group’s website was shut down.

        In July 2009, the government announced that manufacturers must ship machines

to be sold in mainland china with the Green Dam Software. What’s more, manufactures

are required to report the number of machines shipped with the software to the

government. The software is supposed to monitor a user’s every move. After strong

resistance both inside the country and abroad, China decided to indefinitely delay the


        In January 2010, the government has some conflictions with one of the world’s

most high-profile companies, as Google announced that it would cease operations in

China unless their search engine results were not filtered. China government responded

that companies doing business in the country must follow the law. Later in March 2010,

Google closed its Internet search service and began directing its users in China to the

uncensored search engine in Hong Kong. This behavior appeared to anger officials in

China. After three months, the tension ended. Google announced that they renewed their

license to operate a web site in China. This means Google had to censor their search

results on Chinese government’s behalf (Bobbi).
CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

       What’s more, as the revolts began to take place through the Middle East and

North Africa in 2011, the Chinese government felt the threats by potential organized

protests circulate on the Internet. Therefore, the government was more determined than

ever to police E-mails and access to the Internet in order to smother any hint of

antigovernment sentiment. The government’s computers intercept data and compare it

against a list of banned keywords. At the same time, several proxy servers or VPNs,

designed to evade the government’s censors, have been disabled by the government too.

Some people believe that the government will loosen controls soon, with the turnover in

the Communist Party’s top leadership in 2012.

       Consider all these incidents of Internet being censored, different people have

different opinions. Almost all the western media think it is ethically wrong for Chinese

government to censor their citizens’ use of the Internet. They think censorship is totally

not acceptable as everybody on this planet should have the right to be liberate, thoughtful

and free to read and write with the use of the Internet. I could totally understand why

western media have this opinion. It is terrible when you think about how badly the

Internet use was intervened by the government (Randy).

       However, Chinese people have some different opinions on the censorship. Here’s

a survey I did with two of my friends in China to better understand how Chinese feel

about the censorship.

(My cousin, Wu Hao, who’s a programmer working in Oracle China now.)

Q: In your daily life, do you find that internet censors have an impact on your internet


A: No, it doesn’t. I don’t care too much about the politics. I hardly ever look up those
CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

sensitive words. Therefore, I almost never had problems with the Internet.

Q: Do people in China realize how badly the Internet was censored?

A: No, people in China are just like people in the United States. Most people just use the

Internet for personal reasons like chatting, gaming, watching news, etc.

Q: When you send emails, are you worried about what you type, fearing that maybe there

are someone who is reading your E-mails?

A: No, I don’t use E-mails that much.

Q: If for some reason you needed to access censored material in China, would you know

how to do it?

A: Well, I never thought about the problem but I’m sure there’s a way to do it. Maybe I

can bypass the censor by using VPNs and anonymous proxy servers.

Q: Do most people in china know how to bypass the censors?

A: Most people don't, but I’m sure it’s not that difficult to find out how.

Q: Do you think the censorship is right?

A: To me, I don’t think it’s that wrong except that they block the social networks. It

prevents the country from falling apart.

(Another survey did with my friend Qingyi Zhang, who’s an EMT major student.)

Q: In your daily life, do you find that internet censors have an impact on your internet


A: No, because I use VPN to search the censored web sites.

Q: What kind of impact does the censorship have on you?

A: I need to spend some money to use VPN.

Q: Do you think the censorship is right?
CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

A: Well, it depends. It is wrong when we think about they captured our rights to have a

full access to the Internet. It is right when we think about the censorship is good for

protect our national unification.

Q: Do you think the censorship will be gone any time soon?

A: No, I don’t think so. As long as the power is under control of the communist party,

this policy won’t go away.

       As we can see from the survey above, most Chinese people are not concerned

with the Internet censorship. They think of it as a way to unify the country. What’s more,

their daily life is not influenced that much. All those blocked social websites like

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and etc., Chinese people rarely know them or use them.

Therefore, it’s not a big deal without having the access to these websites.

       After we get some ideas on how people feel about the Internet censorship, let’s

find out what content is censored.

       12 out of the Top 100 global websites are currently blocked in China. Examples

like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and etc. are strictly censored. News sources that cover

the sensitive political topics including “Tiananmen Square protests of 1989”, “freedom of

speech”, “Taiwan Independence”, “Dali Lama” and democracy sites. News sites like

BBC News, CBS News, CNN and Yahoo. All of these materials are strictly censored.

Media sites which include unregulated content, social commentary or political

commentary are censored. Websites that contain pornography, obscenity or criminal

activity are censored. Despite the censorship, the Internet in China has developed fast in

the past few years. China now has approximately 300 million web users, which is more

than any other country in the world.
CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

       After doing some research, I found that the reasons that lead to Internet

censorship in China are very complicated. China has its very different culture and custom.

From the past to now, China is a country that has never had democracy before.

Thousands of years, Chinese people are under control of centralized government.

Therefore, Chinese people are used to what their government required them to do. It’s

like one of their customs that dug deep in their culture. This is where China is different

from United States where the country is founded upon freedom. Another reason why

China needs some censorship is that China has a large population. Usually large

population means more problems. With a large population like China means that the

government needs to take a lot of responsibility in unifying people from all over the

entire country. Without the censorship, there would be more chaos. There are 56 ethnics

in China. Each of them unifies a group of people. Without a centralized control over all

these different people, China could easily fall into many parts, just like what happened to

Soviet Union in the early 1990s. These are some special reasons due to the unique

situation China has. The main reason behind China’s censorship is the fear of losing the

control of the country. Those in control of government wish to perpetuate the control. If

people hear or say too many “bad” things about the government, the central authority

might be jeopardized. What’s more, by introducing too many outside philosophies or

ideas, the Chinese culture could be altered completely and thus jeopardize the centralized

government also. The fear of being overly “Westernized” is a big reason behind the

censorship too.

       Thus, in sum, the Internet Censorship in China as I claimed before is a very

complicated issue due to its historical and cultural reasons. It helps to protect the national
CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

unification. What’s more, it provides stability and national security. Even though

functioning well for China in some way, the censorship definitely infringed Chinese

people’s rights to search Internet freely. In this respect, it is ethically wrong and not

understandable. I hope in the near future, with the economic growth and Internet

development, Chinese government could step up and give the full access of the Internet

back to its own people.
CSC540 Term Paper
Shipeng Xu

        James, Randy. “China Internet Censorship.” TIME March 18, 2009. April 24,

2011 <,8599,1885961,00.html>.

        Johnson, Bobbi. “Google's move on Chinese censorship welcomed by human

rights activists.” The Guardian January 14, 2010. April 24, 2011



        Bristow, Michael. “China defends Internet censorship.” BBC NEWS June 8, 2010.

April 24, 2011. <>

        “Internet Censorship in China.” The New York Times March 22, 2010. April 24,




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