China: Where The Fastest Growing IT Market Meets Firewalls?!
It was quite impossible to miss the recent IPO of the Chinese internet company Alibaba. With a closing valuation of more than $231 billion on its first day it only trails Google Inc., Apple Inc., and Microsoft Corp making it the biggest IPO in the history. The Chinese market is currently the second largest in the world. In addition, they have, by far, the world’s largest number of Internet and mobile phone users. Some even believe that homegrown apps are already outperforming their U.S. counterparts, and that China may eventually dominate much of the mobile e-commerce landscape.
But these facts holds a sharp contrast with the way the chinese population itself is allowed to use the Internet. Currently, China is the 6th most censored country in the world regarding the Internet. And while they officially deny it, the Chinese government has always implemented a high level of censorship. Internet, but also television, printmedia, radio, film, e-mail and textmessages are all inspected and controlled by the government. For the Internet in particular, they have installed a special software along with a huge number of inspectors to keep an eye on their citizens. Outsiders refer to the system as “The Great Chinese Firewall” as they are not able to access (and therefore enter) the Chinese market due to this.
One might ask how such a major market player can still deploy such old customs? And will they be able to hold on to these in the future? Naturally, such deeply embedded customs will not suddenly dissapear but with the ever growing internet market, in which they are increasingly involved, it seems impossible to keep banning outside information. In addition, recent events showed that the Chinese population is finding ways to bypass the censorship. During the recent protests in Hong Kong, demanding greater democracy, protesters have, among other, used the internet to express their dissatisfaction. During these, of course not approved, outings there were signs that China’s formidable censorship machine was struggling to keep up with smart commenters who found ways to bypass the authorities. Will this be the beginning of the end?
I am curious about your opinion! How do you think about China’s censorship? And how do you think they can maintain this along with its growing market? Let me know what you think!
Frier, S. (2014) “Alibaba Passes Facebook in Market Value on First Day” bloomberg.com. [Accessed on 4 October 2014] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-19/alibaba-passes-facebook-in-market-value-on-first-trade.html
Einhorn, B. (2014) “How China’s Government Set Up Alibaba’s Success” businessweek.com. [Accessed on 4 October 2014] http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-05-07/how-chinas-government-set-up-alibabas-success
USA Today (2014) “Top 10 Internet-censored countries” usatoday.com. [Accessed on 4 October 2014] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/02/05/top-ten-internet-censors/5222385/
Flannery, R. (2014) “Alibaba’s Success Is Another Wake-Up Call From China To Americans. Hear It?” forbes.com. [Accessed on 4 October 2014] http://www.forbes.com/sites/russellflannery/2014/09/21/alibabas-success-is-another-wake-up-call-from-china-to-americans-hear-it/
Black, E. (2011) “China’s Internet Censorship Harms Trade, US Companies” forbes.com. [Accessed on 4 October 2014] http://www.forbes.com/sites/edblack/2011/12/06/chinas-internet-censorship-harms-trade-us-companies/