Beijing To Forge Stronger Great Firewall Of China
Chinese President Xi Jinping has instructed the construction of a “strong cyber security barrier” around China's internet infrastructure, reinforcing the country's infamous Great Firewall.
His call, issued during a recent two-day cybersecurity meeting in Beijing, comes as part of an ongoing effort to safeguard online data and information under the close supervision of the ruling Communist Party.
Xi emphasized the need for continued management and regulation of internet access. The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying, "Efforts must be made to promote the high-quality development of this sector, making new achievements in building China into a country with strong cyber strength, and thus making contributions to building a modern socialist country in all respects and advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts.”
Security has been a key priority for Xi Jinping over the past decade, with the concept extended to encompass various aspects, including politics, the economy, the environment, and now cyberspace.
China's journey towards tightening its cyber controls started in 2015 when it enacted a national security law that extended its jurisdiction to cover cyberspace. Subsequent legislation mandated security reviews and data storage within the country's borders. This year, the government updated anti-espionage laws, expanding the definition of spying and banning the transfer of information related to national security.
The proposed expansion of the Great Firewall has raised concerns among global businesses about their ability to maintain secure and unrestricted internet connections in China. The Firewall, originally established to control and censor access to foreign websites and platforms, is now set to undergo further reinforcement.
Navigating China's complex web of online data and information regulations has proven risky for companies operating within its borders. In a recent incident, US consultancy firm Bain & Co faced scrutiny when Chinese police conducted a surprise visit to its Shanghai office, questioning staff. Additionally, China's largest financial data provider, Wind Information Co, was ordered to halt providing certain data to offshore users.
President Xi's call for a more robust security barrier has fueled debates about its implications for data privacy, free information flow, and online freedom within China. Critics argue that an enhanced Firewall could restrict access to even more information and further isolate the Chinese internet from the global community.