Table of Contents

Comment Icon0 While blocking access to undesirable websites overseas, sites that offer particularly practical tools are often localized for the Chinese population. For instance, since blogs offers low barriers to self-expression online, web services such as Blogspot are inaccessible from China so as to prevent Chinese netizens from anonymously hosting politically destabilizing content that is beyond the government’s reach. Instead, users are able to use blog services from approved local Chinese service providers, such as the popular ‘MSN Spaces’ managed by Microsoft in China. Being geographically located within China makes enforcing content regulations easier, as proven when Microsoft admitted to removing the MSN Spaces blog of outspoken Chinese journalist, Zhao Jing (also known as Michael Anti), citing its policy to comply with local law (Donoghue, 2006). While American counterparts were unhappy with Microsoft for behaving like “state-run thugs”, the same situation has hit most U.S. Internet companies wanting to do business in China. A few months earlier, Yahoo had come under heavy criticism when it was discovered that the company had provided email information to the Chinese authorities about a particular journalist, leading to the arrest of Shi Tao, a 37-year-old writer for the Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News). He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison. For most foreign companies, China’s obvious market potential makes it difficult to ignore and is even known to be enough to sway the most resilient of companies. In a press statement, Californian-based Yahoo responded to the charges in a written statement: “Just like any other global company, Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based.” (Kerstetter, 2005).

Comment Icon0 Another instance of web blocking happens to search engines such as Google, which was first blocked in August 2002. After being blocked, Chinese netizens would be redirected to Chinese search engines. Much to the protest of Chinese netizens and the international media, Google was available again, but not before agreeing to modify its search results for the benefit of the Chinese government. For web content companies that wish to tread safely, the Chinese government sanctions as safe search engine, whose search results filter out subversive and pornographic content.

Chapter 2.3.1 – Battle of Internet Capitalism


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