Internet Supervision Intensify in China (Blog 19)

I went back China today. To my surprised, I cannot log into my UM email anymore, neither use Google browser or look through the WSJ website. It seems that after a year, the internet suspension(block) in China is being even more strict instead of loosening.

Indeed, right recently, China announced a new regulations requiring users of an array of internet services to register with their real names and avoid spreading content that challenges national interests, which is going be effective in March 1st. The requirements apply to users of blogs, instant-messaging services, online discussion forums, news comment sections and related services. In a word, the characteristic of anonymity in the internet, which is one of the most attractive features of the internet is gone in China.

Most people complained about the new regulation as well as those extreme internet monitoring. Personally saying, I could understand why is Chinese government requiring internet users to register with their real names: to maintain the stability of the Chinese society.

First of all, China is a ‘one party rule’ nation. Unlike U.S that different parties involve in governing the nation(though there would be a dominate party in a period, it won’t hurt too much if a party fade since others will replace it), in China Communist Party takes all charge of the country although there are some other auxiliary minority parties. Thus once the Communist Party are threaten by something or someone, the whole country are in danger. Maintaining the stability of Chinese society is equal to maintaining the stability of Communist Party in a way.

Secondly, with the development and popularization of internet, some voices which against the Communist Party or against some regulations or creeds of Communist Party can be spread very quickly and wildly. Some people are easily believed by those reactionary information, considering China has over 1.4 billion population, those ‘some people’ could have a quite large number. Which is a potential threaten for Communist Party, hence a potential threaten for the stability of the society.

Applying real names on the internet users is quite an effective way and quickest way to find out where those voices comes from, which makes it easy to fix the problem. What is more, applying real names also could reduce the reactionary information from the beginning since people will know that they will be tracked. Put another way, reactionary information or voice may bring little externality to the society, but internet amplifies the negative externality by spreading those information to millions of people. Appling real names on the internet is like putting a fetter on the internet, which minimal the externality. For those who obey the ‘net neutrality rule’, register using real names may not disturb one’s life too much.

However, while enforcing real names does reduce the negative externality, it may also reduce some positive externality. For example, the freedom of speak. people may afraid of being caught by government that they cannot speak out their ideas. Or missing ‘real appeals’. Because internet and media maybe the only way for some people to expose their unfair treatment by local government. Once the center government enforcing using the real names, the local government could ‘clean’ the person first.

Personally speaking, I may prefer not to using real names in the internet. Real names in the internet could bring stability for the nation, I doubt the effect may be only temporary. However, let the public lose the freedom of speak because of the fear for being punished by government, eventually the government would become to dictatorship and cause the even worse fury of the public.

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One thought on “Internet Supervision Intensify in China (Blog 19)

  1. Jonathan Zimmermann

    A transition from one political system to a different one does not necessarily mean instability. A transition can be smooth and only bring progress. Every system has drawbacks, and therefore would need changes, the Chinese Communist Party as well. A transition from this “one party system” toward a “multiparty system” could be done without any friction. But being afraid of any sort of “instability” prevents the system from trying alternative methods. Worse, it makes things burst with a much bigger magnitude when they eventually burst: for decades, such policies can certainly contain the public opinion, but when something goes out of control it generally ends in riots or civil wars instead of simple political dissatisfaction.

    The risks of trying to control a thought system definitely don’t outweigh the advantages. There are not many things on which I say that I strongly disagree and that I am sure to be right, but this topic is one of them: imposing such strict restrictions on internet is extremely harmful.

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