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Episode Info: “If you open the window, both fresh air and flies will be blown in.” Deng Xiaoping perfectly summed up the Chinese perspective on the Internet during his 11 year tenure as the president of the People’s Republic of China, a position he held from 1978 to 1989. Yes, he opened up China with a number of market-economy reforms and so is hailed as the “Architect of Modern China.” However, he did so with his own spin.  The Internet had been on the rise globally and came to China in 1994. The US had been passing laws since the 1970s to both aid and limit the uses of this new technology, but China was slow to the adoption up until this point.  1997, the Ministry of Public Security prohibits the use of the Internet to “disclose state secrets or injure the interests of the state or society. The US had been going through similar attempts to limit the Internet with the Telecommunications Decency Act in 1996 and the US Supreme Court ended up striking that down in 1997. And this was a turning point for the Internet in the US and in China. Many a country saw what was about to happen and governments were grappling with how to handle the cultural impact of technology that allowed for unfettered globally interconnected humans.  By 1998, the Communist Party stepped in to start a project to build what we now call the Great Firewall of China. They took their time and over eight years but a technology that they could fully control. Fang Binxing graduated with a PhD from Harbin Institute of Technology and moved to the National Computer Network Emergency Response technical Team where he became the director in 2000. It’s in this capacity that he took over creating the Great Firewall. They watched what people were putting on the Internet and by 2002 were able to make 300 arrests. They were just getting started and brought 10s of thousands of police in to get their first taste of internet and video monitoring and of this crazy facial recognition technology.  By 2003 China was able to launch the Golden Shield Project. Here, they straight-up censored a number of web sites, looking for pro-democracy terms, news sources that spoke out in favor of the Tiananmen Square protests, anyone that covered police brutality, and locked down the freedom of speech. They were able to block blogs and religious organizations, lock down pornography, and block anything the government could consider subversive, like information about the Dalai Lama.  And US companies played along. Because money. Organizations like Google and Cisco set up systems in the country and made money off China. But also gave ways around it, like providing proxy servers and VPN software. We typically lump Golden Shield and the Great Firewall of China together, but Golden Shield was built by Shen Changxiang and the Great Firewall is mainly run in the three big internet pipes coming into the country, basically tapping the gateway in and out, where Golden Shield is more distributed and affiliated with public...
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