Many renamed the Great Firewall of China, they shifted

Many people consider media censorship as a blatant attempt to oppress the freedom of speech.  Possibly an equivalent to threatening the very definition of democracy itself.  Today’s Western culture is so obsessed with free speech, where the difference between freedom and order has become uncertain.  Media censorship may not apply to all types of government but enforcing strengthened media laws might be necessary for a country new to technology.  China—a nation infamous for their state-sponsored censorship—has been held as an exemplary model of “how authoritarian regime might successfully manage” (Kalathil) the influence of the film industry, social networks, and the news.  
Before exploring the impact of media censorship, it is essential to understand the development China’s Great Firewall.  The Great Firewall of China, previously known as the Golden Shield Project, acts as China’s “internet censorship and surveillance project” (Ping).  China introduced the internet in 1994, and president Jiang Zemin began to observe its influence.  After learning about Alvin Toffler’s “third wave theory,” which states that “the world is moving away from the Industrial Age to the Information Age,” president Jiang Zemin deduced that China must compete with the world more efficiently.  He concluded by encouraging Western countries to “bring in knowledge and open the country to foreign trade and investment” (Ping).  Thus, under the president’s request the government enforced the Open Door policy.  However, their “struggle to strike a balance between “opening up” to the Western world and keeping its people away from Western ideology” (Ping) began to pose a substantial problem.  To keep their order and ideologies, the Ministry of Public Security responded with the Golden Shield Project.  The exponential speed in which the interest has grown in China, however, forced the MPS to alter their project.  Now, renamed the Great Firewall of China, they shifted their aim from “generalized content control at the gateway level to individual surveillance of users at the edge of the network” (Walton).  
The Chinese Communist government desires to “reflect China’s official values and serve its interests” (Groot).  In the most basic sense, China wants to seek vengeance for past humiliations, receive recognition for its rich culture and ultimately end the “global dominance of the English language and Western values” (Groot).  China has been credited for their exponential economic growth, but it appears that impressions from other countries regarding their contemporary values have declined tremendously.  Subjects such as human rights violations, pollution, and other socio-political issues seem to be the primary reasons for the negativity received from foreign nations.  By controlling internet use, China has been successfully cooperating with international institutions such as the United Nations and adopting new concepts like multilateralism.  Cooperating with powerful institutions has allowed China to assert a stronger sense of internet sovereignty among their citizens.  For the past decade, China has ordered on how the internet should evolve in their society, which involves “a government-centric regulatory approach to the Internet” (Kalathil).  
Ever since the Cultural Revolution, Beijing has realized that propaganda and other attempts to express Communist ideas has framed China as an unpopular figure.  To change the minds of international audiences, the Communist Party must “protect China’s influence of the world” (Zhang).  The mix of good entertainment and political agendas has led to China’s recent involvement with Hollywood, an important element in improving their image.  Since the early 2000s, the Chinese government has supported local film industries to compete with Hollywood.  But the Chinese appear to be lacking in the box office business, despite policies that only allow “thirty-four foreign films to screen in China per year” (Groot).  While entertaining a theatre filled with potential Chinese viewers is important, China’s method to achieve success is wholly based on the economy.  
The Chinese entertainment industry is growing, and Hollywood is eager to take part in it.  Statistics show that in four years China’s film audience will exceed that of the United States (McKinsey and Co.).  Numerical values like these motivates Hollywood to enter the Chinese market but due to the strict censorship laws the path for Chinese distribution can be difficult. One major obstacle film producers must face is approval from the Chinese Film Bureau, an agency from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT).  Hollywood’s fear of censorship “sits at the heart of the various strategies around co-production, acquisition, and content management” (Kalathil).  There are three ways for Hollywood films to screen in a Chinese theater: revenue sharing films (giving twenty-five percent of the box office to a foreign company), flat fee movies (expensive and an unpopular choice) or co-producing with a Chinese company (O’Connor).  The fact that the path to film distribution is long and arduous, forces many American film companies to co-produce their films in order to minimize costs.  One prominent example of co-production is the film, The Great Wall.  This $150 million film starred both Chinese actors and American actor, Matt Damon.  Dream Works Animation established Oriental DreamWorks in Shanghai to produce Chinese branded films.  Disney immediately followed DreamWorks’ example by creating a healthy relationship with the Chinese Ministry of Culture.  In addition, some Hollywood films produce Chinese-friendly plots to please the SAPPRT.  The Chinese market has prohibited subjects such as homosexuality and “inter-ethnic conflicts” (Ying) in their films.   Aynne Kokas emphasizes that “No Hollywood producer that wants to take advantage of the Chinese market would at this point include a film that includes anything about Taiwan, about Tibet, about Tiananmen.”  For example, the film Karate Kid (featuring Jackie Chan and Jayden Smith) depicts an African American kid against Chinese bullies.  American directors had to alter the film so much for the Chinese market, to the point where the film shows a completely different plot.  Apart from avoiding negative depictions of China, some directors try to shed a positive light on the country.  Some foreign films are made with the intention to be screened for the Chinese market.  This approach to production leads screenwriters “to consider including Chinese elements, characters, location, and themes when applicable” (Suzanne-Mayer).  The 2015 film, The Martian, directors added a subplot that depicted China Nation Space Administration positively.  This approach to the film industry caused China to be called “the world film police.”  
Those who say that media censorship is an obstruction to one’s rights aren’t even aware of how the Great Firewall affects an average Chinese netizen.  Liu Kang claims that “tales of China’s political repression and terror have more to do with the political, ideological and commercial objects of the Western media than with what happens in China” (Kang).  The amount of internet users in China is approximately 253 million users, 40 million more than the United States (Enge).  When seventy percent of those users deem it “necessary” for internet control, this isn’t an indication of brainwash but instead demonstrates the fact that the term “control” has a different definition in China.  The internet has evolved to function as a medium to discover government lies and corruption.  The concept of “net-based activism” has proven to the Western world that a Chinese netizen is not as powerless as one might perceive it to be.  For instance, on August of 2004, Lang Xianping published accusations claiming that some privately owned businesses were “buying out state assets illegally and, thus, privatizing what traditionally belong to the public” (Lai).  Responses from the public domain were overwhelming, both supporting and opposing parties were apparent on the web.  While debates continued on public forums, one netizen questioned: “why the discussion was so academic, ignoring the voices of the people on the ground” (Lai).  This storm of internet debates began a new form of social justice on the Chinese internet known as the “Human Flesh Search Engine.” 
 An average Chinese netizen limits the utilization of the internet according to a phenomenon known as the “Human Flesh Search Engine.”  According to Tom Downey, this term is “a form of online vigilante justice in which Internet users hunt down and punish people who have attracted their wrath.”  One prominent example is the viral and notorious “Kitten Killer”- a video of a woman beating an innocent kitten to death.  Unlike most internet users who receive information based on large corporations such as BBC and Fox News, a Chinese netizen obtains the latest trends from anonymous online forums.  When the “Kitten Killer” gained millions of views, it was inevitable that they discovered the identity, job, and address.  With a wave of cyber attacks, the woman had ultimately lost her job.  The national government doesn’t monitor activities from the Human Flesh Search Engines because China had decided to achieve a less totalitarian image. 
When media censorship is seen by itself, any attempt to blemish American patriotism is China’s fault.  However, when viewed as a whole, it is clear that China’s authoritarian approach to technology has evolved the digital age like no other country.  When the Chinese governmental understood the power of information in “a holistic, long-term way, they are able to utilize this as a strategic advantage” (Kalathil).  Instead of merely censoring stories depicting China negatively, they can attack the information ecosystem.  By establishing vague regulations and severe punishments for a violation, China has disciplined influential communities to follow self-censorship and self-restraint.  The only question that remains is that as the internet continues to grow larger and more powerful will the Great Firewall stay just as effective.