China, as we all know it, contains just under ⅕ of the world’s entire population. The
Chinese government is often times frowned upon due to its unconventional regime as well as rules and regulations. CNN refers to its censorship on the internet to the “Great Firewall” (CNN). China’s communist rule comes with restraints on certain websites and monitoring individuals’ internet use, which some might say is unethical and a violation of their rights. It is evident that most people residing in China do not enjoy being in a communist regime, as shown by their protest for China’s 70 years of communism (CNN World). The approach of China’s 70 years of communist rule urged citizens to protest against the celebration as they want change. It is evident that citizens want a more lenient and permissive government yet is it up to a foreign country such as Canada to attempt to change Chinese cultural norms.
To begin, China has censorship put in place in all forms of internet media. The Chinese are constantly monitored, their access to certain websites is prohibited, and the information Chinese citizens have access to is censored (Forbes) which makes access to information misleading or incomplete. According to Forbes, the Chinese government was so paranoid at one point that online searches for winnie the pooh were forbidden, due to the fact that they believed individuals were comparing winnie to President Xi Jinping (Forbes). The Chinese government has also censored a journal written by americans simply due to the fact that the publishing company is in their country. American University professors wrote an article with “Higher Education Press and the location of the editorial office in Beijing means “the journal is subject to full range of Chinese government censorship”” (Inside Higher Ed). On one hand, the Chinese government should not be told how to run their country and other countries should not get involved in private state matters, but on the other hand, important information about the world which can only be obtained through the media is censored therefore hidden from the Chinese. The fact that the Chinese government monitors and sensors all information on the internet in the country is absurd and over the top. The Chinese government is aware of its citizens’ unhappiness with its policies, but is a change possible for them? The government needs to evaluate the pros and cons of lowering the propaganda firewall to minimal censorship or even removing it completely. From a foreign, outsider perspective, it is obvious that China should remove the firewall yet from a Chinese perspective, although it may be difficult to work around, it may be complicated to complete.
Moreover, Canada being worried about China’s strengthening of their firewall (Maclean’s) proves that this has now become a global affair. Terry Glavin says “the liberals should be outraged” (Maclean’s) by China’s new censorship crackdown which sets a limit to how much the Chinese people can read about the outside world. Stopping the censorship is important but should Canada step up and say anything about it since the Trudeau government struck an economic deal with China? The Chinese government doesn’t want any information coming from outside of China without the government’s approval (Maclean’s). If Canada were to speak out about China’s private affairs, China would retaliate whether it be by stopping trade between the countries or stopping the economic deal with Canada. Either way, there would be consequences for Canada. Canada, or other foreign countries thinking of going against Chinese culture and stating the censorship should change / diminish need to evaluate all of the possible outcomes. For instance, China’s government said, “stop meddling in China’s international affairs” (Maclean’s). This was said after Canada supported a peaceful protest in Hong Kong. This being said, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that one country must speak out when it notices another not giving individuals proper rights. Both these articles on Maclean’s journal state that Canada must come forward about Chinese censorship in the hopes of one day Chinese individuals being treated fairly and not being censored to important information.
To conclude, China’s propaganda firewall is extensive and hard to surpass with many additions occurring out of the blue, yet the moral dilemma of China having to bring down its firewall by itself, which it won’t, or if a foreign country must push them to do it is a difficult dilemma to find a solution to. Canada should not be afraid to speak up to chinese authorities and government officials when it comes to the mistreatment of Chinese citizens which includes the censorship of information the entire world has access to. Although Canada’s best interests were not at hand when it came to their economic relationship with China, they still supported the peaceful protest in Hong Kong, which they in turn received backlash from China.
Yaqui Wang. China’s Disregard for the rule of law strikes too close to home. Maclean’s. August 27, 2019. https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/chinas-disregard-for-the-rule-of-law
Ben Wescott. Top chinese state media editor calls out major internet crackdown. CNN World. September 19, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/19/asia/Hu-xijin-chIna-interne-intl-hnk/
Jessie Yeung. Hong Kong protesters hit the streets as China marks 70 years of Communist rule. CNN World. October 1, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/china-
Elizabeth Redden. Censorship in a China Studies Journal. Inside Higher Id. April 19, 2019. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/04/19/another-case-censorship-china-studies-journal