Hong Kong Media: China has "World's Most Sophisticated Internet Monitoring System"

August 1, 2005

China has "the world's most sophisticated Internet monitoring system set up by the central government to control what its citizens can and cannot see and say on the Internet," according to a July 20 report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP). According to the article, for the majority of Chinese Internet users, "the system works - they are only able to reach sites to which the government gives them access and, mindful of what is allowed and not allowed, do not dare to send messages with content that might get them into trouble." There is "only a small minority of students - people with a high level of computer skill and the audacious - who dare to look for proxy servers and overcome the obstacles."

According to the SCMP, the Chinese government developed its filtering regime to meet two contradictory objectives: to harness the Internet to allow China to become a global economic power, and to extend onto the Internet the tight controls on news and information that the Communist Party and government first instituted in 1949.

The report also quotes an Internet user in China for an example of the self-censorship Chinese citizens employ to express themselves on the Internet: "When I write about Jiang [Zemin], I cannot write his name in Chinese or English, I write 'Old J' or 'xxx' and my friends know who I mean. Similarly, I cannot write Chen Yonglin [the diplomat who sought asylum in Australia] in Chinese or English. I say 'a senior official in Australia.'"