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There have been recent findings indicating that information exchange in and out of China is becoming more restricted.
There have been recent findings indicating that information exchange in and out of China is becoming more restricted.

There have been recent findings indicating that information exchange in and out of China is becoming more restricted.

Information control and national security

The Chinese government, particularly under Xi Jinping, has a history of linking control and power. The past year saw a significant rise in government efforts to…

In the interest of protecting national security, there are limitations on the transfer of information into and out of China.

Recent reports have shown an increase in actions taken by authorities, such as raiding foreign companies, implementing exit bans, shutting down databases, and broadening espionage laws.

China’s Business Environment in 2019:
This week, MERICS released a report called “China’s Business Environment in 2019.”

The growing difficulty of acquiring information from China under Xi’s leadership.

The authors, Vincent Brussee and Kai von Carnap, explain that the Chinese government is limiting foreign access to important information about modern China in many areas because of geopolitical and national security reasons. The report shows various measures that track the decrease in government transparency and investigates the specific types of information that are targeted. It also includes examples of how technological methods are being used to block foreigners from accessing information on the Chinese internet and considers the impact of a more restricted information environment on global understanding and discussions about China.

Information on the internet from China is vanishing, but the degree of impact varies depending on sensitivity and strategic importance. In areas such as science and technology policies, human rights, and other delicate topics, the ability to access information is visibly declining. However, in fields that are more relevant to the daily lives of Chinese citizens, transparency is still maintained. Even though some crucial databases and sources have implemented more effective measures to restrict foreign access, many commonly used websites and information services are still accessible with some limitations. Additionally, many difficulties in accessing data are motivated by reasons that are not explicitly geopolitical, such as safeguarding personal information or updating websites.

This shows that China’s authorities are more aggressively curtailing information potentially related to an ever-expanding notion of national security but strive to keep everything else relatively open. The party still sees transparency as an important tool to enable a functioning economy, improve its legitimacy, and fight corruption. And to the outside world, a fully closed-off Chinese internet would harm the image of “responsible power” it is trying to convey and openly contradict the narrative of a “shared destiny for the future of mankind in cyberspace.”

Officials are fully cognizant that simply deleting data is not enough; they must replace it with updated and accurate information. This is why there is a focus on effectively sharing China’s perspective, as stated by Xi Jinping. Therefore, limiting access to specific information and then presenting pro-China narratives are two interconnected strategies.

…]

As discussions about China become more widespread, they will focus more on a limited number of sources. This could lead to an increase in extreme perspectives, such as the idea that China is on the verge of both collapse and global domination. The government will likely showcase their grand plans, but hide the sometimes chaotic execution, and international media will continue to highlight protests while the varied opinions of Chinese citizens towards their government may remain concealed. With fewer sources available, finding a balanced viewpoint will become more challenging.Source]

Decreasing international interactions, specifically involving tourists from other countries visiting China, Chinese students attending schools in the United States, and Xi Jinping’s trips overseas.:

At its most fundamental level, there has been a significant decrease in the number of non-residents crossing into China. In 2020, the country saw approximately 62 million fewer instances of foreigners entering or leaving compared to 2019, pre-pandemic, representing a decline of over 63%.

Chinese news outlets often showcase incidents of Americans mistreating Chinese individuals, which supports their narrative of the West being discriminatory and creating barriers and security systems to control China. This portrayal may be discouraging some Chinese students from pursuing education in the United States, as the number of students dropped from 370,000 in 2019-20 to about 290,000 in the 2022-23 academic year.

Mr Xi portrays his nation as a leading participant in global affairs, despite doubts about the impact of globalization. However, he has not shown much interest in traveling abroad, spending only 13 days outside of his country in 2023, a significant decrease from the 28 days he typically spent in 2019. Additionally, he declined to attend the G20 summit in India last year, despite having participated in previous meetings either in person or virtually.Source]

Last month, RFA reported
The CCP is now actively involved in the management of universities nationwide by combining the offices of presidents with Party committees in order to establish a unified leadership for higher education. During a discussion on ChinaFile, multiple participants contended that this move has significant implications.

The limitations placed on academic freedom as a result will probably impede the Chinese Communist Party’s objectives concerning the advancement and international competitiveness of higher education in China.:

Sun Peidong

The increased control of universities by the CCP is a step backwards for academic freedom and progress. While the Party’s aim may be to protect its rule and ideology, this approach will likely hinder creativity, critical thinking, and intellectual growth. According to a recent report by the Asia Society titled “China 2024: What to Watch,” economist Diana Choyleva points out that Xi Jinping’s focus on “comprehensive national security” rather than economic growth, along with a resurgence of Marxist-Leninist ideals, goes against China’s development goals. Essentially, Xi’s regime prioritizes Communist Party control over economic progress and basic liberties. As historian Antonia Finnane noted in her book “How to Make a Mao Suit: Clothing the People of Communist China, 1949-1976,” a country cannot simultaneously encourage technological innovation while suppressing political ideas. This paradox within the communist system only tightens its grip and ultimately suffocates the very vitality it aims to protect.

[…] David Moser
The Party’s approach is hindering China’s aim of creating globally renowned, influential universities. While some top Chinese universities have climbed in international rankings, sustained success requires collaboration with other countries. Despite offering high salaries, Chinese universities struggle to recruit distinguished foreign professors as permanent members of their faculty. Study abroad programs that were put on hold during the COVID pandemic have not resumed, partly due to concerns about censorship of the curriculum. Although China has significant financial resources and government support, the possibility of establishing Chinese equivalents of Harvard or Oxford remains uncertain.
Source]


Last month, Tom Grundy of Hong Kong Free Press covered another situation where the government imposed limitations on the dissemination of information.

The Department of Justice in Hong Kong has removed an internet repository of cases related to national security shortly after its release.

Last Thursday’s index contained PDF summaries of 106 national security law cases that have concluded since the legislation was added to Hong Kong’s mini constitution by Beijing in June 2020.

However, the index vanished shortly after, as reported in a Sunday newsletter from TransitJam, a local news source.

The Secretary for Justice Paul Lam stated that this collection of legal precedents helps us comprehend the criteria of our nation’s security laws and their implementation by the judicial system.

The reason for the removal of the content and whether it will be restored was not provided by the Department of Justice when questioned.Source]