The Invisible Wall of Encircled China

by Carina Li

Internet was invented to bring people together. It was meant to connect one corner to any spot in the world. As the social media is growing in such a rapid pace, the purpose of the invention is indeed becoming realistic. However, due to governmental policies or technical problems, still there are a few countries in the world can’t access to the most used social media platforms.

I don’t know all of them, but I do understand that my motherland China is one of them.

This might sound pathetic, not being able to use Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Instagram wasn’t in the blocked list until what happened in Hong Kong lately. Aside from the category of social media, Google, including all the services within the company, is the biggest one on the banned list.

It wouldn’t make much impact on people if they hadn’t known these platforms before. However, they weren’t blocked in the country until they got more popular among everyone. Because of the complex government system, people are being “protected” by any unnecessary information by the government. More than 25% of the social media users are from China, and of course, they are based on the domestic social media platforms.

People still get daily news, except from the politically sensitive ones, from outside the world. But there are still limitations within these places. I first saw the Hong Kong protest news on CNN. But at that time, my family and friends in China weren’t acknowledged of anything happened. When I tried to search key words of the protest on Weibo, the Chinese version of twitter, I couldn’t find anything related. And there was a line under the search box– “According to certain government laws, your search could not be shown.” In China, there is another list– the alternative list of social media and the internet world.

Of course, the younger generation seeks a way out. Many younger users manage to browse the blocked sites and mobile apps. Proxy server was once the most used way to get out of the invisible wall. And there is a term in Chinese, literally writes as “go over the wall”, meaning using a certain tool to visit the blocked sites. Recently, more and more people buy the VPN service. It can be installed on both computer and mobile devices. People have the desire to know more about the world, but we can’t go against the country. Because it’s all about the laws.

Despite the fact of the “invisible wall”, the technology and social media in China is growing very rapidly. Major companies, such as Sina, Alibaba and Youku have come into the U.S. market and NASDAQ. Tencent isn’t in the states yet, but it has many social media products that the majority of Chinese use on a daily basis. Weixin, a chatting app similar to WhatsApp, is now the most used chatting app in China. People can not only communicate with others, but also share pictures and thoughts on the app. It is Weibo’s major competitor.

There is a chance for the country to re-open the door for people and enable them to explore the world easier. Though the factors come from various background; and we are still not sure when that day will be.



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