For decades, China’s “great firewall” that blocks most foreign internet services remained a vague concept for people outside the country. But the influence of Chinese domestic censorship is now impacting people overseas far more than before.
A series of events around June 4, the day when Beijing’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student protesters in Tiananmen Square took place, has painted a vivid picture of how increasing pressure from Chinese authorities to censor or at least scrutinize online content the Chinese Communist Party finds sensitive can affect the internet experience for users globally.
The decisions the companies make in response to such pressure will have major implications on the internet beyond China: Will users still be able to view and access content legal in their countries but offensive to Beijing?
On Thursday (June 3), Hong Kong democracy activist and lawmaker Nathan Law tweeted that Israeli web hosting service Wix took down a site launched by exiled Hong Kong activists. The site, 2021 Hong Kong Charter, describes itself as a diaspora effort seeking the international community’s support for democracy and freedom in the city, as well as advocating resistance against the Party’s suppression of dissent at home. All of the charter’s main authors, including Law, are currently overseas in countries like the US and UK.