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China’s Historical Isolation Essay

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Updated: May 2nd, 2022

The advent of technology has brought tremendous technological advancements and growth to the entire world. However, technology has also been a source of conflict as some governments seek to control the extremely pervasive and fluid medium. China is the home for the most notable controversy of this kind as it has an advanced system of internet censorship (Tai 186).

This system has seen the government levy harsh punishment to those who violate the strict censorship rules that are in place to ensure the state’s capacity to maintain control of information on the internet. This system takes China back in the days of the dark ages of isolationism that characterized the Qing dynasty. However, the positive aspect of the story is that the Qing dynasty did not succeed, as time was ripe for change. Lyons (1) argues that just like Silicon Valley, the people of the world are divided into two, those who get, and those who do not.

In the current globalized world, internet censorship is more of a modern way of isolationism that characterized the Qing dynasty, and in its every sense, it is bound to fail. The Qing dynasty lasted from 1644-1912, and it was the last prodigious imperial kingdom to rule the region. The early and middle years of influential and enduring rulers characterized Qing dynasty, and this marked a period of prosperity.

However, when there began manifestations of natural disasters and invasions from foreigners towards the closing years of the dynastic period, everything was not as usual, and this signified the ending of the empire. China seemed not to have learned from the ineffectiveness of Qing dynasty’s resistance to foreigners that led to the failure of the dynasty. Today China has the largest documented number of journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world, serving a jail term (Bauml 704).

Communist Party of China has governed China for more than 60 years, and it still reigns supreme as the country’s sole political party. The party has large grassroots penetration in China with over 70 million members, and this makes it the largest political party the world over (Bauml 705). As a result, the party’s presence in every aspect of China’s governance is evident, and because of this, it has been capable of imposing decisions without going through any representative deliberations and consultations.

In the late 1990s, ever since the internet in China became commercially successful, the authorities have sought to restrict its ability to provide alternative sources of information to the public (Lagerkvist 171). The Chinese government has achieved this without much resistance from the authorities as internet executives easily attend summons by the central propaganda department of China’s ruling party.

Given this, most internet firms pledge in government media to do their part in accomplishing the above objectives (Lagerkvist 172). Even though from a business perspective, attending such meetings is an unwise duty, failing to attend prints of the internet company as a weak party on the issue of social stability. China’s domestic entrepreneurs have come to adhere to this practice of a dictatorial development code and ultimately adopt it as a commitment to social and social stability, which stands as the collective benefit of all actors in the society as it reinforces sustained economic growth (Tai 191).

In the Qing dynasty, the same happened as the dynasty sought to separate itself from the rest of the world by not allowing foreigners into the dynasty or forcefully evicting them. The Qing Empire emerged after a 270-year reign of the Ming Empire. In the early 17th century after the passing on of Monarch Qianlong, the Qing Empire began to fall. Just like the previous empires, Tang, and Ming, the Yuan Empire, the emergence of uprisings, natural calamities, and economic hitches signaled the fall of the empire.

It started, in the 1800s, with an inept court system, which instead of dealing a rapidly changing world was involved in its own intrigues and pursuit of luxurious life (San 377). Moreover, before the death of Qianlong, he had set an isolationist policy towards foreigners and this was inadequate in the 19th and the early 20th century. The advancement of foreigners and foreign attacks that struck the Qing dynasty felt a major blow to the court system that was not designed to settle conflicts with foreigners, Europeans and Japanese.

The natural disasters that plagued the dynasty after the wars with foreigners and rebellions, among themselves, left the survivors impoverished. These happenings led to the limited survival of the remaining Chinese. The stiff economic competition that came from the outside with Chinese limited knowledge of the external world complicated the situation even further. Literate people in the empire had their children study primordial philosophical and spiritual texts (San 392).

The isolationist empire traded on the belief that if people gained modern education and learned the outside world, the emperor would lose control of them and he would not be capable of protecting them. Although there were late reforms in the Qing dynasty that started between 1900 and 1901, after they lost in the Sino-Japanese war, they only acted to weaken the empire further and help overthrow the dynasty.

The setback in the war served to influence the young Chinese population and reformists towards making formal changes. Moreover, it convinced Empress Dowager that instead of resisting foreigners, the empire should imitate the foreigners through reform rather than evicting them from their land (San 398). The reforms culminated in the production of intellects with modern education and resident scholars, but the empire did not live to benefit from the positive outcome.

By the fall of 1911, all these products had grown untrustworthy of the dynasty. The result was a dynasty separated from all support. The desire to institute a democratic government saw Sun Yatsen consolidate an uprising against the Qing Empire, which he succeeded to form the Republic of China.

Even though the Republic of China started as an effort to institute democratic government, the present day practices go against this call. China seems to go back to the isolationist policies of the past empires that cost them a great deal. Today, internet censorship in China has separated the country from the rest of the world in the name of championing economic development. However, these practices stand to fail, as globalization that comes with technological developments is an inevitable agent of change.

Apart from the fervent disagreement that exists between China and the US on internet censorship, internal discontent of to the ruling political party’s power abuses has fueled more government’s determination to fight any form of internet-generated opposition (San 451).

Even though this silencing has worked to a certain extent, swelling of microblogs is a rising challenge for the government in its efforts to control the flow of information. Weibo, a microblog in China has continued to register a considerable number of users as the figure swelled from just fifty million in October 2010 to 140 million in April 2011 (173).

This rise of microblogs has enabled the Chinese people to get around the great firewall, whereby users can use anonymizers such as Tor, to create virtual channels that can sidestep filters (Lyons 1). This is an indication of how internet censorship can never reign in the globalized world. The change that comes with internet technology is inevitable, and rather than China fighting with it, it should learn from the mistakes of empires and embrace modern life for the development of its society.

The effects are evident, as an increasing number of Chinese graduates leave the country to perform research in affluent countries due to the isolationist policies that come with an authoritative government (Marketline 30). Internet censorship in the current globalized world is like creating an island of compatriots, separated from the rest of the world and soon China will have to yield to the desire of freedom of the people and the globalization wave.

Annotated bibliography

San, Tan. “Dynastic China: An elementary history.” Canada: The Other Press, 2014.

The book provides the history of China through detailed coverage of its dynasties from the fairy-tale period of Pangu to the end of Qing dynasty, the last dynasty ever to exist in China that paved the way for the current Republic of China. The book intertwines through the vicious political maneuvers and schemes of the royal way of life of China.

Some of the things that form a large portion of the narrative include the determined bequeathing of child emperors with thrones for the benefits of tyrannical eunuchs, dowagers, royal clan members, generals, and warlords.

The author incorporates this weaving with outstanding elements of Chinese rational principles, society values, and political principles. In the process, he goes to extra lengths to explain the core concepts that mold the idea of “All under heaven” and “Mandate of Heaven,” two beliefs that guided Chinese perception of the world.

The chapter of interest in my paper covers the Qing dynasty because it has a sample of information I need to use in order to strike a relationship between the isolationist principles of the time to the current policies on China’s internet censorship.

Isolationist policies of ancient China were meant to stop foreigners from entering the country and eliminate the possibility for the Chinese people to learn from the outside world as an effort to protect them and have them under control. However, these isolationist policies had to be done away with and the result was a revolution that bore the resent day China.

I intend to use this information in order to highlight how internet censorship in China borrows from the imperial past of ancient China. As a result, this builds on my argument that it is only time before the Chinese government realizes the effectiveness of their efforts in continuing an authoritative government under the disguise of fighting dissent among its people or the sake of continued economic development.

Tai, Qiuqing. “China’s media censorship: A dynamic and diversified regime.” Journal of East Asian Studies. 14.2 (2014): 185-209.

The article explores the internet censorship in China and the schemes that have allowed the country to remain in power amidst the wake of the Arab spring. The article explores the argument, that even though internet censorship characterizes most authoritarian regimes, increasing flows of information as the world globalizes and ushers in new technologies, such governments become overpowered and act to seal themselves or wait for their demise.

The article finds that the situation is not real with China, because of the fragmented regulation of the media, internet included. China is adapting to these issues by changing the way in which it applies its censorship practices. Other than restricting unfavorable reports, China is resorting to a strategy that guides conditioning of public opinion.

It is evident, even though the government has banned fewer reports; it has guided even more reports. This is a softer approach of censorship, and while censorship authorities ban unfavorable reports on the internet, the party bans any information that tends to threaten the legitimacy of the regime directly. As a result, the government has proved to be an expert in controlling information for the benefit of the ruling party.

The information, herein, is extremely important in arguing out my case against internet censorship. This is because, the government is not likely to be an expert all through, in the end, it will have to oblige, and this is because the internet wave that characterizes the globalization to explode and it is soon.

This is because apart from the internet wave that is boundless, the internet censorship has increased people’s attention to the censored information out of curiosity, and people continue learning more and more as they invent novel ways to go around the great firewall.

I intend to use the information to reconcile internet censorship to isolationism, which is a ticking bomb. As people innovate ways to go around the censorship, the government expertise will soon grow weary of its concerted efforts of controlling information and is more likely to yield to the pressure, and this will be the beginning of democratic China.

Works cited

Bauml, Jessica. “It’s a mad, mad internet: Globalization and the challenges presented by internet censorship.” Federal Communications Law Journal. 63. 3 (2011) : 697-730. Print.

Lagerkvist, Johan. “New media entrepreneurs in China: Allies of the party-state or civil society?” Journal of International Affairs. 65. 1(2011) : 169-182. Print.

Lyons, Daniel. “You can’t fight the future.” Newsweek. 155.1 (2010): 1. Print

China in-depth PESTLE insights: Marketline, 2014, 1-74. Print.

San, Tan. “Dynastic China: An elementary history.” Canada: The Other Press. 2014. Print.

Tai, Qiuqing. “China’s media censorship: A dynamic and diversified regime.” Journal of East Asian Studies. 14. 2 (2014) : 185-209. Print.

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