Is there a relationship between the Internet control and censorship policy in China, and the country’s economic success? Chinese Internet censorship has meant that access has been denied to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others (Wikipedia estimates over 2,600 websites in total). Meanwhile the Chinese economy continues to grow. While the jury is still out on the question of whether or not social media helps or hinders productivity, it would be tempting to think that China has found some sort of secret sauce. However, other factors suggest that the situation is not so clear.
In the first place, China has its own social networks. In particular, ‘WeChat’ now occupies the top spot, a place reserved in most other countries for Facebook, and is even poised for worldwide expansion. Chinese people can in theory spend (or waste) as much time as their foreign counterparts in chatting, posting and ranting. Whether positive or negative, the effects on business continuity are likely to be similar to those elsewhere. China has even been partially lifting bans on Facebook and Twitter, although for most of its Internet surfers the censorship still remains in place.
In the second place, and in contrast to government control of web content, the security holes in Chinese cyberspace are rated by some observers as significantly greater than say the United States. At the end of August 2013, China suffered the ‘largest ever denial-of-service attacks’ on its domain name system. To further complicate matters, there is a culture of hacking which is not sanctioned in China in the way it is in the US. Individuals and organisations in China run correspondingly greater risks when using the net. Yet there are some sectors that stand to benefit from the situation: web security and disaster recovery solutions providers in China are currently anticipating brisk business.