China – The story of state controlled internet



States that contravene human rights block undesirable websites or obstruct access to the global network. According to Freedom House – a US based non-governmental organization, only 13 of the 65 countries do not intrude into the information freedom of their citizens. During 2018, YouTube got blocked in China. In 2009, Facebook, Twitter and all Google based services were also blocked. 5 years later, access to Instagram was blocked too.


The Golden Shield Project, operating since 2003, is the nationwide Chinese network security project which filters ‘dangerous’ content utilizing keywords and blocks access to websites. After blocking IP address ranges, websites that engaged with Google stopped working. For instance, Google fonts stopped loading. Various entertainment websites were also blocked. In fact, here’s an interesting catch that one cannot access restricted websites using the Chinese 4G sim card, even if one connects from another country.


Chinese IT companies grew, innovating local analogs of Western services, such as Youku in replacement of YouTube, Weibo instead of Twitter, Baidu in replacement for Google, WeChat in replacement for instant messengers. Even after the abundance of Chinese services and applications, many tech-savvy people use local VPNs. These were illegal services that got constantly blocked. Ordinary citizens are allowed to use VPNs, but for educational or scientific purposes. The creator of the Golden Shield had to use VPN to access a South Korean website.


Free internet in China is a myth. Please note, not only in China, but internet freedom is a joke even in Australia and South Korea.



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