With a rapidly growing on-line population, the task of monitoring and censoring China's Internet requires significant investments in tools and infrastructure. Beyond the technological aspects of China's Internet censorship lies a number of laws and state policies as well as a human workforce of over two million people (Hunt). From a mere 2,000 users in 1993, to 94 million in 2005, today the number of Chinese citizens using the Internet is estimated at 600 million (Morrow).
In 2010 the People's Republic of China released a white-paper via their Information Office detailing its policies for implementing and regulating the Internet. Delegating control to over a dozen government organizations (Xu) and detailing 18 specific laws or decisions regarding China's Internet, the document is nothing if not thorough (Dance to The Revolution). Despite this, it is largely seen as a propaganda piece, prompting one American writer to compare the reading of the white-paper to perusing an article on The Onion. The comparison to a parody piece arises from the fact that the spirit of Chines laws regarding Internet Censorship and the practical, day to day implementation of those laws stands in stark contrast (MacKinnon). For example, the 2010 white-paper states:
“Chinese citizens fully enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China confers on Chinese citizens the right to free speech. With their right to freedom of speech on the Internet protected by the law, they can voice their opinions in various ways on the Internet.”(Information Office, PRC)
However, less than a year after the white-paper was released, over 200 people were held in “soft-detention” and 26 arrested in connection with an on-line call by activists for a “jasmine revolution” similar to uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. Among those arrested was Ai WeiWei, a prominent Chines artist. Ai WeiWei, an active Twitter user adept at bypassing China's blocking of the popular social networking site via a virtual private network (VPN), was arrested in April of 2011 at the Beijing Airport, less than two months after tweeting the following:
"I didn’t care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is often, which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most. What a jasmine!"(Richburg)
In truth, it is likely that the true aim of China's Internet policies lies buried in the white-paper. Along with the usual governmental policies regulation activity on the Internet such as gambling and pornography, Chinese policy includes a more vague prohibition of any activities that might be seen as “jeopardizing state religious policy, propagating heretical or superstitious ideas; spreading rumors, disrupting social order and stability.” This was bolstered in 2013 when a Chinese court ruled that a person could be sentenced to three years in jail in an internet post deemed to be inflamatory...