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China China maintains one of the most pervasive and sophisticated regimes of Internet filtering and information control in the world. The community of Chinese Internet users continues to grow, while the state simultaneously increases its capacity to restrict content that might threaten social stability or state control through tight regulations on domestic media, delegated liability for online content providers , just-in-time filtering, and “cleanup” campaigns. RESULTS AT A GLANCE Filtering No Evidence of Filtering Suspected Filtering Selective Filtering Substantial Filtering Pervasive Filtering Political • Social • Conflict and security • Internet tools • OTHER FACTORS Low Medium High Not Applicable Transparency • Consistency • 272 China Background The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a one-party state ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since the opening of its economy under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s, the country has undergone drastic changes. These changes are especially apparent in the information communication technology (ICT) sector, which has become a subject of considerable significance within PRC policy and discourse.1 With the total number of Chinese netizens surpassing 450 million at the end of 2010, the Internet has become increasingly embedded in Chinese society and progressively more central to the flow of information within and across Chinese borders.2 Although recent and current administrations have emphasized the importance of Internet development, Chinese policymakers are also wary of the potentially crippling effects that these changes could have on the CCP’s ability to contain sensitive or threatening information.3 As changing dynamics in China’s relationship with the international community present new opportunities for increased dialogue, the CCP has focused significant energy on developing new ways of maintaining close regulation of the information accessed and disseminated within the PRC. Since 2008, several milestones in China’s development, domestic politics, and foreign relations have presented new challenges to the PRC government, and authorities have responded by launching rigorous campaigns to contain communications, monitor and control citizens’ activities, and outweigh public criticism through proactive counterinformation campaigns. KEY INDICATORS GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2005 international dollars) 6,200 Life expectancy at birth, total (years) 73 Literacy rate, adult total (percent of people age 15+) 93.7 Human Ddevelopment Index (out of 169) 89 Rule of Law (out of 5) 2.2 Voice and Accountability (out of 5) 0.8 Democracy Index (out of 167) 136 (Authoritarian regime) Digital Opportunity Index (out of 181) 77 Internet penetration rate (percentage of population) 28.9 Source by indicator: World Bank 2009, World Bank 2008a, World Bank 2008b, UNDP 2010, World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators 2009, Economist Intelligence Unit 2010, ITU 2007, ITU 2009. See Introduction to the Country Profiles, pp. 222–223. ONI Country Profile 273 On March 10, 2008, the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, protests erupted in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, calling for improved human rights conditions, religious freedom, and, in some cases, political independence.4 Shortly thereafter, with the international community’s eyes on China during the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics, unprecedented protests broke out among Tibetan communities throughout China and around the world.5 The Chinese government responded by initiating violent crackdowns in the Tibet Autonomous Region, clamping down on domestic and foreign media, and systematically blocking online content pertaining to the incident.6 As the Olympics drew nearer, China faced increasing international pressure to lessen censorship and honor its commitment to allow foreign media to report freely during the games. The official policy on foreign media restrictions during the Olympics , issued in 2006, considerably loosened control over foreign journalists, allowing them to travel and conduct interviews throughout China without registration or the official consent of local authorities.7 However, while these new regulations represented an unprecedented level of freedom for foreign journalists working in China, the government continued to exercise strict control over domestic media, tightly limiting the availability of unbiased Chinese-language news.8 Furthermore, though the PRC government had initially agreed to provide unfiltered Internet access to journalists during the Olympics, this promise was significantly compromised and redefined as pertaining only to “games-related” Web sites.9 Numerous political and human-rights-focused Web sites remained blocked throughout the games. Following the Olympics, the new regulations on foreign media reporting in China remained temporarily in place. However, events of the coming year led to a series of tightened restrictions and intensified controls. The year 2009 was a critical one in the trajectory of China’s Internet...


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