Socio-political Implications of the Great Firewall of China: An Act Utilitarianist Perspective

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Durrani, Faris
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The Internet promised a world more open and connected, where information flow necessitates better consensus of ideas. But governments like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also view the Internet as a tool for dissidents to conduct unlawful protests. True to their values, the CCP exerted strict, centralized control over the flows of information across their borders using the world’s most sophisticated censorship technology, the Great Firewall of China. The array of tools and policies used to censor unorthodox views disproportionately affects the main targets—the political minority of China in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, and elsewhere, but its effects spilled to other nationals who may not harbor any democratic intentions like scientists, religious groups, academicians, and foreigners conducting business within the mainland. To access the lucrative Chinese market, foreign markets often must target their content to appease the Party, creating a self-censoring environment where China is shined in a positive light. But another side of the coin argues that the Firewall is necessary to guarantee stability, containing public quarrels and ‘misinformation’. Indeed, the COVID-19 success story in China was only possible because of the state’s authoritarian control. Authoritarianism creates the order that the state needs for the operation of a commodity economy. Less is the fact it stifles creativity and innovation as the Great Firewall is an important reason for the rise of Chinese tech giants like Tencent. And restrictions adapt to the stability of the region. In the short term, it is argued that the need for stability outweighs the need for political liberty but in the long term, the Chinese government and people must consider the sustainability of such practices concerning its productivity and social development.
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Undergraduate Research Paper
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