Is The Great Firewall Of China A Trade Barrier? And If So, Does China Care?

from the probably-not dept

Neelie Kroes, currently VP of the European Commission (and previously EU Commissioner of competition), is apparently claiming that China’s Great Firewall of internet censorship is really a trade issue, that should be reviewed by the WTO for trade violations. This isn’t the first time this has been suggested, but previous discussions never went anywhere. Now, restricting access to web information and websites can certainly be a trade issue. The fact that many of the websites blocked by China are foreign-run businesses, you can make an argument that China is protecting local companies. But, China has a pretty big trump card: it doesn’t care. The WTO could rule however it wants, and China will just say that it’s not a trade issue, but rather a way of protecting citizens from content it deems dangerous — and will then point to Australia’s attempted internet censorship along with things like ACTA, to point out that lots of countries seek to put limitations on internet content they deem “bad.” So call it what you want, it doesn’t seem likely that any WTO action will convince China to change.

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Comments on “Is The Great Firewall Of China A Trade Barrier? And If So, Does China Care?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

nor does it matter. the amount of trade blocked by their firewall probably wouldnt be a rounding error on their gdp. there are plenty of other issues that restrict trade in china, like the requirement that foreign companies form 50-50 joint ventures with locals in order to operate in china. that would be slightly more than a rounding error issue.

xs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Look at how outdated your information is. The 50-50 rule is long gone after China joined WTO. Chinese government overall treats international companies much better than local ones. For example, international companies pay much less taxes than local companies. So stop crying about “restrict trade” already. Just count the number of “anti dumping” investigations in US and Europe, and think how that’s hurting trade.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does China have any evidence that anything they deem dangerous and censor is actually dangerous. Other countries seem to not censor stuff that China censors and I don’t see how they are in any more danger.

When the Chinese government stats “dangerous,” they don’t mean for the People of China. They mean dangerous for the regime. As the old adage says, Knowledge is Power.

rke says:

lol, wut?

There are many many software companies that quietly deliver untold millions of dollars worth of software and other “digital goods” on the Internet without regard for borders, who stand to lose greatly if countries start to think of it as a situation where they could apply border controls. IMO, this is why even the Googles of the world, who are squeamish enough about China’s espionage and human rights record to GTFO, aren’t actively saying “Hey WTO, this is a trade barrier!”

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