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The great firewall of china

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5420 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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-Messages of Beijing Internet Information Administrative Bureau to the main portals and websites registered in the capital.


The Great Firewall of China promoted propaganda of the Chinese Communist Government in terms of monitoring, filtering, tracing and blocking the information that could be harmful for regime of China but the GfoC have been promoting the anti government propaganda in terms of provoking and inciting people to be against to the government by means of violation of human rights and freedom of privacy life.


In this part of research, the theoritical framework will be examined. Firstly, the question why original characteristics of the internet made it hard to control will be discussed. After that, the panapticon prison concept which means to use the internet for the purpose for control will be explained.


“The linking of the world’s people to a vast exchange of information and ideas is a dream that technology is set to deliver. It will bring economic progress, strong democracies … and a greater sense of shared stewardship of our small planet.”(former Vice President Al Gore)

The Internet is a worldwide network of computers. It is an interconnection between large and small networks around the globe. Furtherly, the internet is one of most powerful communications tool. It empowers its users with great access to a huge pool of data, tools and the information to accomplish many different tasks. The Internet is used for business and pleasure alike. Here , we will discuss the main characteristics of the internet.

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There are several layers and modes of communications among the layers. Hence, some standards have been raised to allow proper level of communication across networks. However, these standards do not restrict the access of information to a particular location. The information spread freely across the networks in the standardized manner. Another remarkable feature of the Internet is Flexibility on the transfer of the data. Internet is basically a network that carries information in digital form in the cases instead of voice information in analog form (FreeDialup,2007).

The architecture of the internet is also different from the other types of communication. The internet follows a client sever architecture. A server is a computer loaded with a software package that provides requested information to clients. A client is a software program that contacts to a server and requests information. There are different kinds of servers softwares. A single hardware server computer could have several different types of server software packages running on it. For example, you could have a web server, e-mail server or a chat server running on a single hardware computer server. Client sends its request to the server with its own address so that the information will be returned to the correct location. However, the client requesting services must match the type of service that it is connecting to. The client software has to match up to an exact kind of server software and each server requires a specific kind of client software. For example, If you were looking for a web page, you would use a web client to access a web server. If you want to get your e-mail, you would use an e-mail server. These features make Internet a unique and highly efficient network of networks.

The characteristics of the Internet that affect its usefulness in teaching and learning can be divided broadly into Information and Connectivity. “The advantages arise from the Internet’s enormous capacity to link participants with information and with each other” (Fahy, 1998). the information on the net is multimedia which capable of having images, sound and also video. They are expensive to produce without help of the internet but increasingly there are open sources that these information can be found free of charge. Furthermore, comparing to cost of producing hard-copy books,CDs and films, the internet use in terms of selling or deliver the materials is more and more cheaper. It makes the internet more attractive to both sellers and buyers as well.

In politic point of view,according to libertarians, authoritarian regimes such as China that rely on information control will be defenceless against the internet (Tsui,2001). Since the civil society can facilitate from the internet in terms of democratic thoughts. Authoritarian regimes condemn the internet for being harmful to regimes. In 1998, the China Communist party feared the China Democracy Party (CDP) would breed a powerful new network that the party elites might not be able to control(Goldman,2004). States are unable to regulate the internet because of ‘the technology of the medium, the geographical distribution of its users, and the nature of its content’; what Boyle calls the “Internet Holy Trinity” (Boyle,2000). The anonymity is also another characteristic of the internet that makes it hard to control. This feature of the internet is also used for describeing and spreading the thoughts about any case anonymously. However due to anonymous individual or groups that create danger for the governments and their regimes, the governments had need to block or limit that individuals and groups. However, the governments have started to focus on cencorships to block these harmful attempts. We will analyse these attempts in the other parts of the research in detail.


“Morals reformed – health preserved – industry invigorated – instruction diffused – public burthens lightened – Economy seated, as it were, upon a rock – the Gordian knot of the Poor Laws not cut, but untied – all by a simple idea in Architecture!”(Jeremy Bentham, 1791)

Jeremy Bentham describes panapticon a Greek-based neologism for ‘all-seeing place’ as how architecture can regulate behaviour. Bentham explained the concept of Panapticon in 1791 as a model prison designed as means for social-disipline. The panapticon was created in order to all cells can be viewed from one central point and prisoners cannot tell whether they are being watched or not, thus a sense of fear is induced by them as well. That constant fear of being viewed regulated the prisoners and induced “proper” behaviour (Lyon,1994).

Lyon also recognise some traits of the Panapticon concept which are reinforced by electronic surveilliance,invisibility of the inspection and its automatic character (Lyon,1994). The panapticon gains its power from total of information and controlling of subordinates. Therefore a normalizing discipline from the prisoners is prepared.With regard to internet regulation, Boyle proposes a model of ‘privatised Panopticons’ in his article ‘Foucault in Cyberspace: Surveillance, Sovereignty, and Hard-Wired Censors’.This model tries to decentralise multiple parts of the Panopticon. The privatised Panopticons are responsible for what happens on their part of the network,resulting in a high degree of self-regulation (Tsui,2001).


“The new technological revolution or information revolution … may help China skip over some of the stages which have been experienced by other developing countries” (former premier Zhao Ziyang, 1983)

“We should … recognise the tremendous power of information technology and vigorously promote its development. The melding of the traditional economy and information technology will provide the engine for the development of the economy and society in the 21st century.”(Jiang Zemin, August 2000)

“None of the four modernizations would be possible without informatization.”(Jiang Zemin)

This chapter will provide information about history and the origins of the internet in China. First of all, we will look at why China wanted to regulate and limit the use of the internet even if it is very hard to control. Secondly, the role of media in the Chinese communism will be introduced. After invention of the internet, a lot of changes were made in the structure of Chinese government therefore the different ministries and government bodies and their responsibilities are discussed. Lastly, some information will be provided about the development of the internet in China.Furthermore, the demographic characteristics of the current internet users will be explored and the use of the Chinese language on the internet will be examined as well.

Even though China reacted to the industrial revoloution too late, chinese leaders do not want China to miss the information revolution. The interest in information revolution has started in the 1980s. It gained strong support because both conservatives and reformers agreed that this “class neutral technology” was needed to close the gap with its Asian neighbours and the western world(Taubman,1999) In the other hand like many others, Nicholas Kristof who is writer of the New York Times believed that the internet, once it reache a country, is an unstoppable liberating force (Goldsmith,Wu ,2000). Therefore, it could be that the communist China government is also in the same way of thinking because in 1998 the China Communist party feared the China Democracy Party (CDP) would breed a powerful new network that the party elites might not be able to control.(Goldman,2004). The CDP was immediately banned followed by arrests and imprisonment (Goldsmith,2006). That same year the Golden Shield project was started. The first part of the project lasted eight years and was completed in 2006. The second part began in 2006 and ended in 2008. According to China Central Television (CCTV), up to 2002, the preliminary work of the Golden Shield Project cost $800 million (equivalent to RMB 6.4 billion, or €650 million)(Epochtimes,2008). The Golden Shield Project will be analysed in the 2.5 CONTROL OF THE INTERNET IN PRC part of the research.


  • The Internet Propaganda Administrative Bureau and the Centre for the Study of Public
  • Opinion, which come under the Information Office of the State Council (the executive)
  • The Internet Bureau and Bureau of Information and Public Opinion, which come under the
  • CPC’s Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department)
  • The Ministry of Information Industry (MII)
  • The Ministry of Public Security’s Computer Monitoring and Supervision Bureau
  • The MII’s Centre for the Registration of Illegal and Unsuitable Internet Content.

The last two bodies (4 and 5) deal with the problems of pornography, violence and fraud, while the MII is not directly involved in Internet control. The really effective bodies are those mentioned in 1 and 2.


“China earthquake media policy reversal”

The role of media under effect of the Chinese communism is dramaticly different from the role of media in Western democrasies. The media under effecet of Chinese communism is seen as a fundamental political tool by the government. The media should function under the Party’s apparatus and are responsible for educating the masses and disseminating ideology. Ideology as defined by Schurmann is a “systematic set of ideas with action consequences serving the purpose of creating and using organisation.”(Tsui,). However, the party is the owner ,manager and practinioner of the media as well. Since the Open Door Policy in 1977, China agreed to open up to the West. Therefore, the role of media has also changed and according to Lynch, three factors( administrative fragmentation, property-rights reforms and technological advance) are responsible for the changes in thought work.(Lynch,1999). Furthermore, the government of China mostly put pressure on the media in order to block the information that can be harmful both the regime and the statue of the government. Even though the government tried to block foreigner enterprises to join the media of China, the media organisations had to find associates due to the media organisations are not self sufficient in terms of financial issues. Therefore, the cencorship efforts of the government could not obstruct all the media organizations that are discussing and writing about government. However, the regulation attempts incited the media organisations to protest the censorships that are applying to writers,newspapers and the other media canals.


“In the new century, liberty will spread by cell phone and cable modem … We know how much the internet has changed America, and we are already an open society. Imagine how much it could change China. Now, there’s no question China has been trying to crack down on the internet — good luck. That’s sort of like trying to nail Jello to the wall.” (former President of the United States Bill Clinton, 8 March 2000)

The development of the internet infrastructure in China started in academic and scientific circles like the most countries. The first computer network was the China Academic Network (CANET). It was set up in 1987 to provide support for academic and scientific research in computer science; the staff had access to email facilities. Other academic networks soon sprung up, amongst others the network of the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) and the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) (Tsui,2001). When the freedom of thought in China started to spread, the government started to attempt to find a method that blocks or limits the unwanted information by the government. In September 22, 1998, the Minister of Public Security Office after meetings and through research with many public security organs across the country decided to carry out the work of public security information technology – the “Golden Shield Project” (Associated Content,2008).

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The Golden Shield Project which is often known in the media as the Great Firewall of China is a system which was set up by the government of China to limit the access of the Internet in the entire country of China. Not only the Golden Shield Project works as a censor but also it monitors all online activity in and out of China. Not only are the Chinese citizens being monitored but so is any messages sent between China and other countries so if you have friends, family, or business partners you are being watched by big brother too (Associated Content,2008). For instance, if you try to enter the Google and search for police brutality, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, freedom of speech, democracy, and Marxist sites or Sites related to the Taiwanese government,you will probably face a blank page or a page says that “This page cannot be found”. Furthermore, The country often blocks an entire Web site, even if only parts of the site contain sensitive information, (Edelman,2008). For instance, it blocks several sites for leading U.S. universities, including Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Therefore, even if internet users in China are incredibly increasing, the freedom of thought is decreasing and people today cannot enter the websites and cannot reach the information that they want, they can only reach to the information which the government allows they to reach and learn. This attempt can be examined as propaganda which will be evaluated in the next chapter of the research.


“You make a problem for us, and we’ll make a law for you.” (unnamed Comrade X) “Imagine a network that knows who you are, where you are, and can reach you whether you’re on your mobile phone or at your desktop. Even b e t t e r, imagine instead of finding your Web content, i t f i n d s you. Sounds personal. Exactly. ” – Nortel Netwo r k s ,

Pe rsonal Internet Strategy

The first paramount leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao Zedong, once said the following that has become the motto for the Party: if we Chinese Communist Party want to stay in power, we need to control two things – one is the gun, the other is the pen. That’s why the Chinese Communist Party has been employing violence as well as propaganda-plus-censorship in every one of its suppressions over the past 60 years of its ruling, whether the suppression is on Tiananmen students, Falun Gong, or Tibetans.( Zhou,2009)

China today faces a very modern paradox. On one side, the government understands that information technologies are the engine driving the global economy, and that Chinese economic growth will depend in large measure on the extent to which the country is integrated with the global information infrastructure. At the same time, however, China is an authoritarian, single-party state. Continued social stability relies on the suppression of anti-government activities. To state the problem simply, political control is dependent on economic growth and economic growth requires the modernization of information technologies, which in turn, have the potential to undermine political control (Walton,2008).

To evaluate the Great Firewall of China-officially Golden Shield- in terms of propaganda, we should examine the GfoC in terms of either tactics of propaganda or the perspective of propaganda or persuasion term.

The all tactics of propaganda are suitable for GfoC and the government of China has already used them all. First of all, the most conspicious tactic is the transfer. Although official name of firewall is the Golden Shield, it is represented as Great Firewall of China which reminds the Great Wall of China which is one of the most famous value of China. The reason for using the name of Great Firewall of China by the propagandist government can be that thought of this firewall will protect the Chinese nation like the Great Firewall of China. Therefore, Chinese people had sympathy for the firewall first and then Chinese people delivered their PC and laptops to the departments of the government in which technicians installed the Firewall to all computers.(Goldsmith,2006). Secondly, at the same time, the bandwagon tactic draws attention as two different forms. The first one is that ,in 2006, millions of internet users allowed the government to install the GfoC to their computers by convince of the other people who allowed before them. The second form is that , China government produces advertisements and TV programs that describe the beneficial sides of the firewall and furtherly some countries such as Cuba, Zimbabwe,Belarus and Turkey have affected from the Golden Shield and some other countries also have started to produce a similar firewall ( Reporters Without Borders. 2006). Thirdly, the government of China is using testimonial tactic very effectively by using experiments of famous Chinese scientists and their testimonials to make people believe that the Golden Shield is beneficial and necessary to save Chinese cultural values from degeneration. On April 3, 1998 secretary of the Central Political Science and Law Committee, Luo Gan said: “Overall, there must be a consideration, the ultimate goal is to achieve a national network. To be considered further. The realization of the national network to provinces and municipalities.” For his there is a need, “To establish an overall monitoring of the Internet management center.” (Associated Content,2008). Another tactic that can be defined is card stacking tactic because by help of the censorship the goverment can integrate the all information in such a way that the all information is suitable for benefits of the goverment to Chinese nation by giving disinformation. For instance, when the term of Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 is searched by Google.cn you can find only the information that the government provides and also if you try to find inconvenient words according to the Chinese goverment such as democracy in China or Tiananmem massacre you may be banned from the internet for five minutes first then if you try again you may be banned for ten and your IP number will be started to be watched. (Fallows,2008)

however, glittering generalities tactic is also widely used by the government, even if the government limit and block the freedom of nation, the government make people believe that they will have a more freedom and they will facilitiate from the loyalty to censorship in terms of benefiting from services of the government. Due to the fact that China is under control of Chinese Communist Party, the government uses name-calling tactic mostly by calling the Western and the other powers that are against China such as Tibet or protesting monks. For instance, China calls the Dalai Lama a “cat’s paw of international anti-China forces.” Protesting monks are labeled the “scum of Buddhism,” and foreign critics are said to have a “dark and despicable mentality.” In responding to recent anti-Chinese protests in Tibet, Beijing has revived shrill language from past decades, displaying the communist regime’s extreme sensitivity over the issue and enduring authoritarian nature.(Ways That Are Dark,2008)

To examine the GfoC in terms of Cultural Value Orientation of Schwartz(2008), firstly it should be known that China is the most hiearchical culture in the world according to Schwartz. Furthermore, China has been trying to attract the other countries and to seem to be superior to others by following the harmonic cultural values such as respecting to the nature. For instance, The photographer, 41 year old Liu Weiqing, was under contract with Xinhua to provide photos for China’s largest government-run news service. He faked the the photo using of Photoshop to combine two separate images and create the desired effect. That photo was used for advertisements of some ISS companies which are engineers of the GfoC(Ways That Are Dark ,2008). This is the aim of propaganda anyway, making the unreal seem real.

‘The truth is probably the opposite of what the picture was trying to claim,’ Su Jianping, a zoologist at the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, in Xining, told the journal Nature last week. The antelopes are shy and their migration patterns are being disturbed by the trains. ‘There is no such thing as harmonious coexistence between trains and antelopes,’ Jiangping said(Ways That Are Dark ,2008)

On the other hand, the hierarchical culture value of China is very suitable to propagandize and make people belive sometimes by inforcing. For instance, the self censorship is the consequence of the propaganda of the GfoC. People became voluntary for finding and complaning the websites that should be blocked by the government free of charge because of the habits of hierarchical cultural values. People who are from hiearchical cultures always want to show their loyalty to masters.

Deflective Source Model of Propaganda

Legitimating source Model of propaganda

In order to evaluate the Great Firewall of China in terms of source models of propaganda(Jowett, O’Donnel,1999), we should think widely and prove the evidences. It is obvious that the Great Firewall of China is the deflective source of the government of China because the government determines the all information that people of China can reach and learn. Therefore, China can provide information just for benefit of the government by help of the GfoC. Furthermore, in detail,

this firewall can be used as legitimating source as well. By allowing the web sites which seems to be from western countries but at the same time under control of the government of China, China can provide the information that will be served in that website and than the government can present that information as if the website that seems to be from western provided.

By help of source models of propaganda, the government of China kill two birds with one stone which means that firstly by monitoring, filtering, tracing and blocking both writers of websites and readers of those websites, the government can control all data flow on the internet and can use the all those data for its benefit. Secondly, by blocking the websites that contains harmful content for communist regime such as liberal or democratic thoughts, the goverment survives as much as it wants and prevents people to learn the other thoughts and protest the recent regime.

On the other hand, the producer of the GfoC is Cisco which is an American based firm. When an internet user wants to enter a website, this attempt firstly reaches the servers of Cisco and then if Cisco does not find any banned content, it let user reach the website. In this manner, there could be another source model of propaganda that Cisco which is an American firm can change the information and can provide the information that the USA wants to integrate to Chinese Public. It can sounds some kind of conspiracy theory but according to Newsmax article(2009); Even if the USA does not integrate the thoughts of capitalism and liberalism directly, there are projects that make the Chinese users protest this firewall such as Global Information Freedom Consortium. This kind of attempts will be examined in the part of counter propaganda in detail.


“Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 20 “Enemy forces at home and abroad are sparing no effort to use this battlefront to infiltrate us,”159 (editorial in People’s Daily, January 2001) “China is going to develop the internet, but we do not know whether it will be with the kind of unfettered press freedom that Western experts want. Maybe we do not want that kind of freedom.”160 (Ke Guo, associate professor of journalism at Shanghai International Studies University)

Since the GfoC is a very controversial issue in terms of human rights and freedom of thought, several organisations such as Global Information Freedom Consortium, Internet Freedom Project have been founded in different countries. On the other hand, some civil attempts such as Tor which is an onion routing tool have been served in recent years. In addition, the attempts to control to the internet is critisized as limiting the freedom of thought by newspapers and writers in Western such as BBC, CBSnews,Guardian and by some consortiums such as Global Internet Freedom Consortium.

However, there is one frontline of the battle that has been ignored until now by the anticensorship community. Besides technological pursuit in censorship implementation, the Chinese communist regime makes strategic plans to export their propaganda and disinformation machinery to free countries inconspicuously, apparently, applying the “an offense is the best defense” philosophy. Many Chinese-language websites, as well as newspapers in the United States are largely controlled by Beijing through ways such as investment or joint venture, and these media can spread the same disinformation in the western world as on the other side of the GFW. Sometimes it is ironic to see web surfers from China, after successfully penetrating the GFW, end up in traps skillfully set up by the censors they are trying hard to evade. Hereby it is important to build and maintain trustworthy content platforms in their native language, to provide users with a true, independent cyberspace immune to the censors’ infiltration.(Tsui,2001)

The development of the internet will bring immense changes to authoritarian regimes such as China. These regimes are trying to stop an irresistible force in their efforts to control the internet.2 One cannot but agree with Clinton when one keeps hearing from journalists and politicians that the internet is the harbinger of freedom without boundaries. Information previously unavailable to the ordinary Chinese citizen is now accessible on the World Wide Web (WWW)(Freidman,2000) Furthermore, there are several websites that are inciting and provoking Chinese people by telling that censorship totally opposes the Human Rights and those websites gives the information in native language. When those websites are searched for, the GfoC blocks the connection but by means of softwares of those provoking websites such as www.peacefire.org” which are not banned by the GfoC (GIFC,2007). There is also another deflective source model of propaganda in a case that the libertarians and democrats are using those websites which provoke people and allow people to enter banned websites as deflective source and at the same time those propagandists use the GfoC as legitimating source by searching banned words such as democracy,freedom and then they criticize the regime of the Communist Party of China with regard to changed messages of legitimating source.(Jowett,O’Donnell,1999)


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