China has 420 million internet users. The top priority at hand is being able to connect with each other. However, China has a notorious digital barrier that blocks YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google, sites which are taken for granted in the west. So, China may not have Facebook anymore, but there is a clone of the popular social network named Renren. The practice of creating these duplicates is to enable to Chinese Government to keep their citizens complacent. Michael Anti explains on a Ted Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrcaHGqTqHk) that just because China blocks several prevalent major players on the global internet, does not have to mean that the “Chinanet” is a barren “wasteland”. In fact, Anti believes that the utter opposite of this is the truth. Anti states that there are hundreds of millions of micro bloggers that are working to create the first national public sphere in the country’s history and thus shifting the balance of power in unexpected ways.
While the internet in China in the present day is active and popular, it does come with great censorship and control. What is interesting however, is the answer to the question: How does a censorious country like China able to build their complicated and extreme firewalls and filtering systems? The answer, is with Western technology. If you wanted to censor the internet, all you need to do is go and buy “censorware” from an American corporation such as Cisco. This seems a little bit like a double-standard.
Will this give young travelers less incentive to travel to China? On every social networking sites there are hundreds of photos and status’s that depict travel and holidaying. Did you really go to Bali if you didn’t take a photo of your legs by the poolside holding a strawberry daiquiri if you didn’t post it on every single one of your social media accounts? China seems to be doing a good job of secluding itself from not only the west, but from all corners of the globe. Although their own forms of social media that are unknown to other countries seem to work for them, it seems as though the role of social media behind the Great Firewall is somewhat arbitrary.
(Author not disclosed) 2011, ‘Column, the Great Firewall of China’, Financial Express, 17 Nov, Accessed 12 April. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/904414840?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=15112
Oxblood, R 2002, ‘Great Firewall of China’, New Scientist, vol. 176, issue. 2368. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/200385021/abstract/F7E88CC72D964280PQ/1?accountid=15112