I spent 18 months of my life in China. I have to admit, as much as I didn’t like what I was doing and didn’t like the dirtiness and the pollution, I had a fairly decent life. I lived in a (mainly) ex-pat community and I made a crap-load of money, compared with the cost of living. I was able to afford everything that I needed and most things that I wanted. One thing I could never live without was my Astrill VPN (virtual private network), which allowed me to set my computer up with a server in another country so it accessed the internet as if it weren’t in China. This is a “must-have” for any ex-pat living in China if they want to be able to access the websites they access in their home country.
China’s Communist regime has taken to blocking websites that might incite the public, or “spread rumors” about things that actually happened. Most of the websites I visit regularly are blocked in China. Websites like FaceBook, YouTube, The New York Times, WordPress, Google Docs, Twitter, IMDB and The Pirate Bay are blocked by the government. These websites are “free speech” websites and might allow Chinese citizens access to news or opinions that the Chinese government does not want them to see.
China’s new “president,” Xi Jinping has tightened controls over the Internet since coming to power in 2012, bringing in tough legislation to control the “spread of rumors” online. The spread of rumors?!? You mean the telling of the truth!?!? Chinese citizens have their news so skewed by the censorship and government control that they don’t know what’s actually going on, or they don’t know all sides to conflicts and arguments. They have been so controlled all their lives that they trust Xinhua (the “official” Chinese news agency) to give them their news every day. This news agency is nothing more than an arm of the government that controls the information that people can receive. It was only until recently that Chinese people were not allowed to talk candidly online about the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese government decided it happened long enough ago that it is now innocuous to speak of. Negative statement about Mao and the Communist government are still verboten!
When living in China, I was always cautioned not to talk about “the three T’s.” These are Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen. According to the Chinese government, there are no problems in Tibet, Taiwan is still part of China and the Tiananmen Square incident was a misunderstanding. Anything printed, spoken or typed to the contrary was against the government and people had “disappeared” for just that reason. In fact, China has a penalty of up to 3 years in prison for “publishing false, defamatory statements.” These statements are anything that goes against the what the government says, so China controls access to websites that would allow free and flowing opinion about them.
Thankfully, I had my Astrill, but the government got smart and blocked the websites that allow you to download VPN software. Luckily for me, a friend had a copy saved and I was able to install it. Others are not so lucky, and have to live behind the Great Firewall of China.
If China wants more western nations to invest in its economy and relocate companies there, some of these restrictions are going to have to be lifted. People expect to have the same comforts and luxuries in their adopted countries as they do in their home countries. These people are going to stop coming to China and look elsewhere, where the restrictions don’t exist. The Chinese government needs to take a long look at the idiocy and stupidity of these restrictions and the (mainly) negative effects of having a population completely in the dark about many things. It’s no wonder the Chinese have trouble fitting in when they travel abroad, or they have to go live in another country. It’s like the sheltered child that doesn’t know how to act around other children, or the “inside” cat who is suddenly released into the yard. These people are ignorant and naive because their government forces them to be!