19 April 2015

China’s Maodun: A Free Internet Caged by the Chinese Communist Party

A trenchant analysis of Beijing’s cyber contradiction (矛盾, máodùn).

Amy Chang, “China’s Maodun: A Free Internet Caged by the Chinese Communist Party,” Jamestown China Brief 15.8 (16 April 2015).

China pursues a strategy of aggressive cyberspace management and is in the midst of fostering a military cyber force to further the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) primary interest: to stay in power. Secondary considerations that directly or indirectly support the continuation of CCP rule include the preparation for military conflict, the sustainment of economic growth, the control of content and of expression online as well as the reinterpretation of what it means for a country to manage the Internet. 

The Chinese leadership has recognized that the proliferation of information technology has the potential to enhance economic output in a globalized world, though they also recognize that it also has the potential to undermine CCP rule. China now has the largest online population in the world, which is now surpassing 649 million users, though close to half of its population is still without access to the Internet (Cyberspace Administration of China, February 3) While the Chinese government wants to help its citizens get online to foster economic growth and stability, it also wants to be able to steer discourse toward “rational use of technology” and limit accessible information to maintain political legitimacy (State Council Information Office, June 8, 2010). This need for control manifests in China’s cybersecurity strategy. …