The recent cybersecurity law approved by the Chinese government has created commotion throughout China and has effected many foreign companies trying to gain access to China, the most populous country in the world.
The new law imposes strict requirements on companies in China and foreign companies like Apple and Amazon. The law regulates how these companies monitor, manage and store content on their platforms. The law drew criticism from many human rights groups. Some critics of the law have called on tech companies to send a message to the Chinese government that they will not accept the abuse of freedom and privacy. (Griffiths)
The Chinese authorities say that this new law was brought about to prevent crime and terrorism and is necessary to improve China's data security. The law also prohibits activity to overthrow China's communist government. (China approves law to tighten control...)The law also drew criticism from foreign business groups because of China's stricter regulation of "critical information infrastructure," making sectors including telecommunications, energy, transportation, information services and finance subject to harsher security checks. (Chin)
One of the main controversies with the law is censorship. Censorship is controversial because it takes away the people's freedom and privacy. To find out more about censorship, a group of researchers tested more than 26,000 keywords on WeChat accounts in China, Canada and the U.S. They found that 174 keywords lead to censored websites. Most of the words censored were related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. (Chin) Another 13% relates to Communist party officials. One example is the term "Xi-tler, a nickname comparing Hitler and Chinese president, Xi Jinping. (One App, Two Systems)
WeChat also censors all content for users with a Chinese phone number, even if they are traveling overseas or if they switch to an international number. (One App, Two Systems)
Through this new law, the legacy of Legalism can be seen. The Chinese government believes that by enforcing the law they will end terrorism and crime. The government also believes that they need to take action and not let nature take it's course. They believe the enforcement of the law is the only way to end chaos. Like Han Fei, Xi Jinpeng will reward the companies that abide by the Chinese rules by giving them access to the world's most populous country, while he will ban companies that don't allow the government to access their content.
The law states that agencies and enterprises must improve their ability to defend against hackers. The law demands security reviews for all equipment and data. The law also makes censorship a matter of cybersecurity, and the government will punish companies that allow unapproved information to circulate online. (Chin)
Any company can set up base in China as long as they obey the laws put in place by the Chinese government, and they meet the interests of the Chinese people as determined by the government. But, companies believe that if they follow the Chinese laws and show the Chinese how their products work, their trade secrets might be leaked. (China approves law to tighten control...)
Some companies, like LinkedIn, have agreed to let the Chinese government censor their content, but many other companies, like Google, have not. (One App, Two Systems)
Many critics believe that the restrictions put in place will provide no security benefits, but will create barriers between Chinese and foreign companies in industries where data needs to be shared internationally. These critics believe that the restrictions China has created might risk the technological isolation of China from the rest of the world. (Mozur).
Human rights groups believe that this is unjust and think that the media should not be controlled by the government. (China approves law to tighten control...) A human rights group was very concerned about the new law, mainly because it calls for users to enter their real name for messaging services. The group's director believes that the government should give its people more freedom, not less than they already have. (Mozur)
These new laws in China show the legacy of the Legalists and also shows how the government is different from the Legalists. The law reflects the Legalists, because the people that follow the law will be rewarded by gaining access to China's economy, and people who disregard the law will be punished. Unlike the founder of Legalism, Han Fei, the president of China, Xi Jinpeng, indulges in what he wants and doesn't make laws based on the desire of his people for freedom. The tactics of the Chinese government completely go against what Confucius tried to accomplish in his society. Confucius believed that if the five great relationships aren't put in place correctly a society will crumble. One of the five great relationships is the relationship between a ruler and a subject, which is currently a tense relationship in China. I believe that the people of China want to protest and rebel against the government, but they are scared that the government will punish them and maybe kill them.
This issue is very important not only to China, but to the future of the world, and foreign companies. China is worlds most populous country, so the future of the country could also effect the future of everybody around the globe. My research has lead me to think about lots of follow-up questions. The main question I have is, how will these new laws effect the growth of technology in China relative to the rest of the world, and when will the Chinese government stop protecting it's people from reality.