From our point of view, there are three concepts that can help us understand better the digital ecosystem in China.
3 concepts to understand China's digital ecosystem
The Great (Digital) Wall
The Great Wall was built to serve as a line of defense against possible attacks by the nomadic tribes of the North and to guarantee the harmony of the Chinese Empire. The Great (Digital) Wall is an information control system that the Government built to ensure the harmony of the Chinese network and that includes measures such as filtering pages by words, blocking IP addresses, etc. This system works so well, in part, due to the self-censorship of Chinese Internet users and the privatization of control, which makes many Chinese companies (or foreign that want to work in China) censor the content they host on their servers themselves.
Photograph by Ka Xiaoxi.
Insulated by a rigid policy of the Chinese government that blocks social networks as important as Facebook or Twitter, China has been developing its own social networks, extraordinarily adapted to the local market, leaving very little space for more international networks.
In China, we could say that Darwin’s Theory of the Evolution of Species is applied in the technology industry. Only the strongest and the best adapted survive.
Make China Great Again
At the National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2017, in the same year that Trump came to power, Xi Jinping delivered an important speech in which he declared: «The Chinese nation … has risen up, has become rich and it’s getting strong. » He articulated a new era with a historic mission to «realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation» and set three milestones for the next decades:
- Build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects,
- That China should be much stronger economically and technologically, should become a “world leader in innovation” and should completed its military modernization.
- And finally resolve the Taiwan issue.
And there they are.
Illustration by Paul Rogers.