I choose the article “Could China’s Unfree Internet Become Everyone’s Reality” to talk about this week’s topic. In this article, by citing former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s opinion, the author firstly looks back the history of Internet development in China and the development of censorship of the Internet in China. As a result of censorship, the most popular websites in China are all Chinese-based and these websites are controlled by the Chinese government. In author’s opinion, Beijing concerns more about”cyber-sovereignty” rather than the Internet freedom, and this attitude of the Chinese government reflects they prefer more Internet independence rather than influenced by other countries’ foreign policies, especially the policies of U.S.. In author’s opinion, the Washington should worry about this fact, while what they do equals to give Beijing more power to control Chinese Internet.
The Chinese case support that “US foreign policy will remain largely determined by the country’s perceived political, economic, and military needs instead of the outcome of ethically structured modes of communication” (Comor & Bean, 2012, p. 216), and what Shirky said in his article that “a government’s demands for Internet freedom abroad can vary from country to country, depending on the importance of the relationship, leading to cynicism about its motives”(Shirky, 2011). Nowadays, as two of the most powerful countries in the world, China and U.S are not just only competitors, like U.S. and the Soviet Union during the cold war, but also are important partners of each other, especially in trade aspect. Actually, The United States is China’s second largest trading partner, the largest export market and the fourth largest source of import. According to the data released by Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in 2015 the value of trade between China and U.S. was 558.39 billion dollars. Because of these, U.S. concern about the relationship between U.S. and China and doesn’t want to break it because of their foreign policies of Internet.
In addition, in my perspective, the Washington’s somewhat more tolerant attitude towards Beijing’s Internet censorship in this Chinese case is somewhat due to that “this is not to say that popular movements will not successfully use these tools (social media) to discipline or even oust their governments, but rather that U.S. attempts to direct such uses are likely to do more harm than good”(Shirky, 2011). Taking Weibo (Chinese Twitter), which was referred in the article I chosen and in author’s opinion was under the control of Chinese government, as an example, actually there are some official accounts of American government or departments on Weibo, and they can post (maybe it is kind of propaganda) something not so sensitive. However, so if Washington intervenes Chinese social media directly or always posts something that will do harm to Beijing’s governance rather than regard Internet freedom as a long game, the current environment may not exist any more and this is absolutely what Washington doesn’t want to see.