Totalitarian Chinese authorities have banned the Internet just days after the Communist state’s President Xi Jinping assured the world that he would protect it.
China already bans large websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a whole load of others, so residents have no choice but to set up virtual private networks in order to access those sites.
VPNs are also used by many companies to connect their various offices across different locations. In a country that size of China, these locations can be thousands of miles apart. So it’s difficult to see how the authoritarian regime will enforce the ban.
Nonetheless, the command and control apparatus of the Chinese state has decided that VPNs provide people too much freedom – or “disorder”, as the government calls it – and has rule that VPNs be shut down.
Nominally-Communist China’s fanatical guarding of its Internet market is often referred to as the “Great Firewall”, and ideology may have little to do with its new move.
The country has some of the world’s largest Internet companies, which may not have had a chance to grow if giant US tech companies had muscled in previously.
So, it could be argued that China is adopting a protectionist policy driven by commercial interests rather than Maoist principles.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says the ban is intended to “clean up” the Internet, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
“China’s internet connection service market … has signs of disordered development that require urgent regulation and governance,” the ministry said.
The ministry added that the crackdown on what SCMP calls “unregulated internet connections” is intended to “strengthen cyberspace information security management”.
All this seems to contradict the “unquestioned leader” of the Communist Party, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who gave the keynote speech at this year’s Davos conference, to an audience of worlds leader from politics and business.
Jinping blatantly supported free Internet access and spoke against protectionism, perhaps directing his comments at new US President Donald Trump, whose policies seem to be largely protectionist in nature.
Jinping told the audience at Davos: “We must redouble efforts to develop global connectivity to enable all countries to achieve inter-connected growth and share prosperity. … Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room. While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air.”
SCMP suggests that the apparent inconsistency between the freedom espoused by Jinping and the Ministry of Information’s banning of the Internet may be because of an upcoming leadership reshuffle in the Chinese Communist Party later this year.