Wei Xing , the former editor-in-chief of Sixth Tone in his article ‘Mike Pompeo’s Dad was a Hunanese Bandit’ and other real fake news has explained how China has built its fake news machinery to fill the information vacuum between China and news from the rest of the world.
The GFW refers to a series of legislative and technological barriers that allow the CCP and the Chinese government to control the flow of information and regulate the domestic internet. China has over 800 million internet users and each one of them is subject to the world’s most sophisticated censorship system – The Great Firewall.
The GFW blocks access to multiple foreign social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and also does not allow access to the widely used online messaging platform WhatsApp. It also allows the CCP to block access to foreign media sources, further allowing it to keep the Chinese people in the dark and enables it to control how much and what exactly the Chinese people hear of the outside world.
The GFW is a major component but is only of the components used by the CCP to monopolize information. A massive chunk of CCP’s information control mechanism consists of disinformation, fake news, and censorship. These practices are rampant in almost all sources of information – from social media to television and even print. The internet and the advancements in technologies have given people access to news and information from all around the world, and when people can have accurate information about happening in the world, they can attain a better understanding of international events that impact them. Wei Xing , the former editor-in-chief of Sixth Tone in his article ‘Mike Pompeo’s Dad was a Hunanese Bandit’ and other real fake news has explained how China has built its fake news machinery to fill the information vacuum between China and news from the rest of the world. In the article , he has stated that “When citizens have accurate information about their country , it’s only then that they can adopt a rational, open-minded worldview.”
The CCP has historically considered the media as a means of advancing its political agenda and narrative. The CCP has always been anxious about online media portals such as Litchi News, Shanghai-based The Paper, Southern Weekly, and others like them because these platforms are not directly controlled and funded by CCP, like Xinhua and CCTV. As per the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Xi Jinping is utilising the ideology of ‘struggle’ to mobilize aggressive nationalism among the Chinese people. This has now become a central part of his rule. Thus, to inspire nationalism , the CCP must promote narratives that make China look good, effectively deflect blame away from it and criticize the actions of the West.
The party fiercely wishes to maintain absolute power over the Chinese people, in the regard it believes that giving free access to information to people will threaten its monopoly on power. Therefore , it wishes to keep the Chinese people in the dark and cut off from the rest of the world. The CCP only allows the people to see what they wish the people to see by propagating narratives that benefit the Party and criticises the West. These exposes have also highlighted that in addition to running global disinformation campaigns, the CCP also runs domestic disinformation campaigns so that the general public remains oblivious of the atrocities the CCP commit against the Chinese people, further bulwarking international criticism and domestic discontent.
The Great Firewall of China (GFW; simplified Chinese: 防火长城; traditional Chinese: 防火長城; pinyin: Fánghuǒ Chángchéng) is the combination of legislative actions and technologies enforced by the People’s Republic of China to regulate the Internet domestically. Its role in Internet censorship in China is to block access to selected foreign websites and to slow down cross-border internet traffic. The effect includes: limiting access to foreign information sources, blocking foreign internet tools (e.g. Google search, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and others) and mobile apps, and requiring foreign companies to adapt to domestic regulations.
Besides censorship, the GFW has also influenced the development of China’s internal internet economy by nurturing domestic companies and reducing the effectiveness of products from foreign internet companies. The techniques deployed by the Chinese government to maintain control of the Great Firewall can include modifying search results for terms, such as they did following Ai Weiwei’s arrest, and petitioning global conglomerates to remove content, as happened when they petitioned Apple to remove the Quartz business news publication’s app from its Chinese App Store after reporting on the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests.