Everyday, people in America access the internet for social networking, for communication through email, and to find out basic things. We get our information through our phones or computers and then go on about the day, but not everyone in the world is so lucky to have the power of the internet completely at their disposal. The great firewall of China is the nickname of the massive internet censoring and monitoring project by the Chinese government. Internet users can be imprisoned for challenging or disrupting the “harmonious society”. The restrictions and consequences of regular internet use in China is a threat to human rights. Corporations like Yahoo have already folded to China’s demand by turning in information that has lead to the arrest of Chinese internet users. Google continues to cause a stir as it flip flops its position amid public pressure; the US government has taken preliminary action to legally challenge China in the interest of Google and other American companies. However, the people of China are hindered from and must be conscious of their internet usage for their own safety.
China actively employs over 30,000 people to monitor internet use, but it goes beyond that. The government holds internet portals partially responsible with the Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry. Over 130 Web portals have signed this pledge including Yahoo. Even internet cafe owners employ people who walk around monitoring the screens of the customers.(BBC) There is no free speech for people under the firewall. Wang Xiaoning and other activists were sentenced to ten years for their anonymous posts to a Yahoo email list. Later, the same people sued Yahoo for turning in the information to the Chinese government that lead to their arrest (Cohn). The government allows no room for its citizens to freely use the internet.
Numerous sites are blocked, including many You-tube videos and Wikipedia articles. Articles on Religion, alternate forms of government, and even pornagraphy sites are blocked (This could be potentially dangerous seeing as how the gender imbalance will leave MILLIONS of men without a partner, currently, prostitution rings and kidnappings are beginning to become problems for China). All information about Tibet or Tienanmen Square or any other mishaps by the government are blocked. The people of China have a right to know about their own country. They have a right to access information freely and without worry of being arrested for pro-western/unharmonious opinions that they post. These people are victims of a government desperate to keep in power by controlling what people know, what they have access to, and what they are allowed to say.
Internet censorship is an issue of human rights. It goes beyond the government blocking sites about democracy. It is about the plight of people like Liu Shaokun, a teacher who posted pictures of a collapsed school, his critical views and unhealthy portrayal of China got him sentenced with a year of hard labor(Reuters). China wold sacrifice their own citizens for the “Harmonious Society”. They even pit people against each other having volunteers monitor internet use. These injustices are suffered daily by the Chinese people, and will continue until something is done.