The Great Firewall: How China Polices Internet Traffic

It may be famous for its Great Wall, the ancient stone and earth formation that winds its way more than 5,000 miles along the country’s border, but there’s another wall in China that’s causing a stir these days.

The Golden Shield Project — informally dubbed the “great Chinese firewall” — is an elaborate governmental exercise in power politics. The firewall, constructed by the Communist Party of China (CPC), restricts Web traffic and effectively censors the Chinese public’s ability to access foreign information.

According to some reports, the Shield was the CPC’s direct response to the creation of the China Democracy Party (CDP), which was founded in 1998 and outlawed the same year. The potential loss of political clout — and the fact that the CDP allegedly included former students who had been involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, a series of protests that left hundreds dead in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing — posed a threat to the CPC, reports stated.

The Golden Shield is run by China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS). Design began in 1998 and it became operational in November 2003. According to China Central Television (CCTV), the project cost $800 million. An updated version was built between 2006 and 2008 at an unknown cost.

Laying Down the Law

The Communist Party has the monumental task of controlling the information flowing out to the country’s estimated population of 1.3 billion. According to many reports, Beijing has employed more than 30,000 people to monitor Internet access,…


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