The Global Economy and the On-Line World: Consequences of WTO Accession on the Regulation of the Internet in China

By Wyatt, Alex | Melbourne Journal of International Law, October 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Global Economy and the On-Line World: Consequences of WTO Accession on the Regulation of the Internet in China


Wyatt, Alex, Melbourne Journal of International Law


CONTENTS  I     Introduction II    China and the WTO         A   China's Entry into the WTO         B   Obligations of WTO Member Nations III   Regulation of the Internet in China         A   Regulations Prohibiting Use of the Interact for Political             and Illegal Purposes         B   Regulatory Tools for Enforcing Internet Censorship in China               1   Encryption Regulations               2   Registration Requirements               3   A Single International Gateway to the Internet IV    Enforceability of WTO Rulings V     Conclusion 

I INTRODUCTION

When 10 000 members of the Falun Gong sect descended on Zhongnanhai (1) for a silent protest in April 1999, it came as a complete surprise to China's leaders. It also horrified them--with the tight integration of the State into almost every aspect of Chinese life, (2) they simply could not understand how a protest of such magnitude could have been arranged without Governmental knowledge. (3) There seemed only one explanation: the sect members had organised their protest using the Internet, that vast, notoriously unregulatable, (4) product of the digital age. The size of the protest underlined the potential of the new medium as a forum for political discussion and disturbances--a clear threat to the power base of the Chinese Communist Party (`CCP'). The CCP reacted swiftly and brutally in response to this threat, completely shutting down Chinese access to the Internet the day after the protest. (5) Even when the Internet reopened three days later, access to all Falun Gong websites had been blocked. (6)

The closure and subsequent censoring of the Internet in the wake of the Falun Gong protest is indicative of the uneasy relationship between the CCP and the Internet. On the one hand, the Government has vigorously encouraged the use of the Internet and its assimilation into Chinese society, seeing the new technology as a fundamental part of its modernisation drive. (7) Yet on the other hand, widespread use of the Internet violates the fundamental Leninist requirement that the State must tightly control the flow of information and ideas to the people. (8) The CCP's contemporaneous devotion to Leninism and modernisation has meant that the Government's regulatory approach to the Internet has been somewhat inconsistent and contradictory. Indeed, it has been asserted that China is `embarking on the information superhighway with one hand on the wheel and the other hand on the plug'. (9)

So far, China has managed to monitor and control the Internet without severely hindering the economic development it promises. (10) However, this delicate balancing act is clearly threatened by the external disciplines that will be enforced against China in the wake of its accession to the World Trade Organization (`WTO') in late 2001. Due to the recent explosion in the amount of international trade and business on-line, the Internet is increasingly coming within the scope of the WTO trade rules, which require free and open access to the markets of member nations. The purpose of this paper is to examine the regulations currently used by China to monitor, control and censor the Internet, and to determine whether these regulations are consistent with current WTO rules. It will be shown that regulations governing the Internet in China can be divided into two categories: first, laws forbidding the use of the Internet for any political or illegal purpose (`censorship laws'); and secondly, regulations which China has enacted to enforce these censorship laws. It will be argued that although the censorship laws themselves may be WTO-compliant, some of the regulatory tools China uses to enforce the censorship laws may be WTO-noncompliant.

Part II of this paper examines the WTO, its trading rules and the issues involved in China's accession. Part III will analyse the WTO-compliance of the various laws and regulations used to control the Internet in China.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Global Economy and the On-Line World: Consequences of WTO Accession on the Regulation of the Internet in China
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?