back to article Beijing wants its internet to become 'civilized' by always reflecting Marxist values

China wants a "civilized" internet that displays and promotes Chinese socialist values and will strengthen oversight to make it happen with tools including a rumor-debunking mechanism, as outlined in a missive from China's Communist Party and the State Council. The actual requirements and recommendations – grandly titled " …

  1. ShadowSystems

    Enforce their walls.

    They have a physical Great Wall to keep the "barbarians" at bay. They have a "Great Firewall" to keep the digital barbarians away. So enforce them. Cut their internet access off at the Great Wall so that they can't infect the rest of the global resource. In the exact same way you would excise a cancerous growth from an otherwise healthy body to prevent it from spreading, do the same to China & the global internet.

    1. Allan George Dyer

      Re: Enforce their walls.

      @ShadowSystems - Don't forget the Silk Road. You could view Chinese history as a pendulum between isolationism (Great Wall) and trade (Silk Road). Isolationism was winning in the 19th century, until a bunch of state-backed drug-dealers broke in, it made a comeback in the early communist era but receded with the 1970's Opening of China. Now the controls are being strengthened again.

      Note that the pendulum is largely driven by forces within China. Good luck resisting a China-approved internet ("excise a cancerous growth", as you put it) when you're buying all your manufactured goods, including electronics, from China.

      1. iced.lemonade

        Re: Enforce their walls.

        It takes time to make manufacturing decentralized into other countries - some of those manufacturing functions requiring less technically-capable labour has already spread into SE Asia, and those technically mid-tier are going/gone to India. The 'Global Factory' wasn't built in a day and, perhaps, decentralizing it requires much more time than it was built, especially infrastructure-wise - for example, some countries like Bangladesh have cheap labour but the electricity supply is unstable.

        1. Helcat

          Re: Enforce their walls.

          That's the problem - there's too much reliance on Chinese manufacturing. That dependence is a liability but companies want items made cheep and China supplies that, and while that remains true, we're stuck.

          It's one of the things the EU's protectionist approach helped with: Limiting imports from China meant companies had to go elsewhere, so they looked for ways around the restrictions while still paying minimal price for their goods.

          Would be good to have choice other than which company imported the same item from China and simply rebranded it (just go on Amazon to see the same thing sold by half a dozen people, just with either a different brand on it, or no brand at all).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Enforce their walls.

        History records that the East India Company and other British merchants began to smuggle Indian opium into China, getting paid in tea and other goods. By 1839, opium sales to China paid for the entire tea trade.

    2. nijam Silver badge

      Re: Enforce their walls.

      It's not really anything to do with the barbarians. Like all totalitarian states, the biggest threat comes from permitting their own citizens to have opinions that diverge from the glorious leader's opinions. Or indeed facts that diverge from the glorious leader's opinions.

  2. doublelayer Silver badge

    Er ... is this really news?

    China has always wanted and mostly gotten widespread control of their internet. These regulations, suggestions, or whatever word they're using are not even new--it's always been forbidden to say something against the party. They have had reporting systems for that for a long time. As such, this is an announcement which merely restates what they have been attempting for two decades and what we all know they'll continue to do as long as they can.

    1. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: Er ... is this really news?

      Close China off from the rest of the internet. It is what they want anyway!

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Er ... is this really news?

        It's interesting that this imbalance is even allowed - that is Chinese consumer cannot access western online stores, whereas western consumer can access Chinese ones.

        This facilitates one way flow of capital, to China.

        We are all building communist utopia.

        1. nijam Silver badge

          Re: Er ... is this really news?

          > We are all building communist utopia.

          I'd call that a double negative: neither a utopia, nor communist to any great extent.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Er ... is this really news?

            More an oxymoron, n'est-ce pas?

  3. msobkow Bronze badge

    I find China to be a fascinating social experiment. They try to dance between Marxist Communism locally, but want to be cut-throat Capitalists globally. The dichotomy really does end up producing a lot of bizarre conflicts of interest...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Even locally the capitalist tendencies were in the ascendent until recently. Since the 80s the leadership recognised that Marxism wasn't working for them. And so they've modernised their economy and improved the standard of the living in the country hugely.

      But it may be that Xi Xingping genuinely believes that Marxism is the way forward. Or he may just want to re-assert state (and Party) control of the economy along with everything else? Or maybe a bit of both.

      The Chinese Communist Party has a history of making economic decision so disastrous that they made the Soviet Union look like Warren Buffett in comparison. But that was mostly under Mao. Xi talks like a communist - but is that just a smokescreen to get more control, or does he want to try and run the entire Chinese economy himself?

      Although it always pays to remember that China is a big and diverse place, and it's hard for Beijing to tell the provincial governments what to do. Historically the Communist Party has struggled with that as much as the emperors did.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        I don't think Xi minds capitalism as long as the companies concerned only compete for money. When they start to compete with the government, or if they should ever say no to the government, that's when Xi and the rest of the CCP wants to push them down a bit. I predict that they won't dramatically change companies' operations except to keep them somewhat small and therefore easier to kill should anything catastrophic happen.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      There is a simple explanation for that. Communist / Socialist systems generate very little value, as people have no incentives to innovate and be entrepreneurial. In many Soviet countries, there was a popular saying: "Down you lie or up you stand, either way you’ll earn a grand". Now Communist economy can only last so long on forced labour camps and they need an external source of energy to power the system.

      In some instances that would be oil, gas and other natural resources (but they can still screw that up - if you look at Venezuela), so China found out that they can use western free economies as their battery.

      We are yet to see the effect of that wealth transfer.

      And what will be the next source of energy...

  4. jake Silver badge

    That's not The Internet, China.

    That's an intranet, at best, and the worst kind of intranet at that, a heavily censored one.

    Shame on you. Somewhere, Marx is spinning fast enough to light up the Great Wall.

    "A free press is the ever vigilant eye of the people's spirit, the embodiment of the people's trust in itself ... It is the people's outspoken self-confession, whose redeeming power is well known. It is a spiritual mirror, in which a people discover itself." —Karl Marx

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Now that is a very interesting quote.

      It clearly demonstrates that Communism is like the Bible : each group keeps its own favorite quotes that agree with their specific mindset and ignores the rest.

    2. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: That's not The Internet, China.

      A Marxist in favour of free speech? Wonders never cease...

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: That's not The Internet, China.

        Marx said he was never a Marxist.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: That's not The Internet, China.

          "Marx said he was never a Marxist."

          And would no doubt be appalled at what happens in his name today. Likewise, Jesus never claimed to be Christian, and would be appalled at what happens in his name today. The Buddha never claimed to be Buddhist, and would be appalled at what happens in his name today.

          See a pattern here?

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: That's not The Internet, China.

        Well, the quote is just an opinion about free press as he understand it - it may not necessarily be what you and me understand by free press. Communists love to use weasel words in their propaganda, that may look appealing to an untrained eye.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: That's not The Internet, China.

        Not that much of a wonder. Marx was a journalist, and a newspaper publisher.

    3. Julz Silver badge

      Yey

      But what did the Great Chairman say on the matter.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Yey

        "Oh, bother!" said Pooh.

        Or was that"Think, think, think."?

  5. sabroni Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Because the unregulated internet is great!

    It's given us Google, Amazon, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook......

    Maybe the Chinese are on to something?

    1. Bartholomew
      Childcatcher

      Re: Because the unregulated internet is great!

      At least in China everybody knows that they are being monitored online and offline by the government (basically the wet dream of the Stasi). While in the west the amount of "legitimate interest" and "partner programs" AKA total online surveillance to try and sell stuff by profiling everybody is truly gobsmacking.

      In the east all information harvested is linked by the government directly to your "Resident Identity Card"'s Identification number.

      In the west it is linked to an "anonymous" profile (well a whole bunch of them that are swapped between partners), that would include your domicile, age, gender, ethnicity basically everything about you as an individual except for your real name, but only for legal reasons.

      It would be difficult to say which is worse. They are both excrement, and neither are going away.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Because the unregulated internet is great!

        I think it is very easy to tell which is worse, that is unless advertisers start dragging people out of their homes in the middle of the night for buying the wrong product.

        1. Bartholomew
          Mushroom

          Re: Because the unregulated internet is great!

          Sorry what I meant was that all forms of surveillance eventually have negative impact, people can tolerate it for longer than you would expect, but eventually humans just snap. And since in the digital age people can not typically see 1,000+ companies following them everywhere as they move around online, it may take far longer for them to flip.

          The way most commercial surveillance is currently setup today the advertisers NEVER have any access to the metadata that is harvested, that would be giving away the golden goose. Advertisers bid at automated microsecond auctions on a set of filters and keywords to specify where their ads will be shown. The more specific the keywords and filters the more it will cost per ad. So say shoving your add in the faces of lgbtqia2s+, living in San Francisco, aged 18-30, who are expecting their first child in the next three months, with the message arriving just after lunch (typically after people have eaten they are a little bit nicer/dopier than usual and think everything a great idea - best time in work to talk about a raise), displayed prominently in the top half of the screen would cost far more than say targeting the message to expectant parents in California.

          So anyhow if the advertisers are dragging you out of your home in the middle of the night for spending money, that would truly be a surprise. (P.S. I gave you a thumbs up anyhow, because you made me smile)

          No the only people who should in theory have access are the people who are harvesting the data and everyone (probably about 1000 companies) in the partner programs. And even though legally governments in the west can not typically collect the metadata due to pesky laws they can fully circumvent the law, with secret compulsory court orders with gagging (e.g. FISA in the US) to force access the metadata they can not collect directly. And since the data is not perfect that killer UAV might be sent to the wrong address - oops collateral damage, oh well next.

        2. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo

          Re: Because the unregulated internet is great!

          Advertisers may not drag you out of the house in the middle of the night,

          -> hypothetical scenario incoming

          However, advertisers might show you ads for, and articles on the efficacy of Ivermectin, if the corporate-total-surveillance-profile has put you in the "likely Corona sceptical" category.

          If this has been done in error (because you oppose unlogical counter-measures, but not the counter-measures as a whole), then you may have a chuckle can carry on with your life.

          If this has been the case, because you have some doubts on the whole thing, this might you lead down a rabbit hole, with potentially life-threatening consequences in the end.

          Advertising seems to me like smoking, the individual ad doesn't kill you just the same way as the individual cig doesn't kill you. Cumulatively, however, there might be some dire consequences in waiting.

          The polarized society is already being monetized:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Jones#Consumer_products

          Anyway, have a good day, and stay safe and sane.

          https://www.theshovel.com.au/2021/09/08/man-who-took-ivermectin-put-down/

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Because the unregulated internet is great!

      Big tech companies spend millions (if not more) on lobbying to make sure there is a regulatory capture, tax man looks away and in exchange they offer shaping of the opinions for the favourable political option.

      Basically - the party cannot mandate censorship of views going against the party, but social media company can do that on their own volition, so they have mutually beneficial relationship as a result.

      CPC might see that as a threat - if apparatchiks on their own can order that certain views are not going to be censored.

      This one the other hand works in favour in for the China in the West - they can pay boatloads of money to big tech companies, to ensure that weak political options are favoured. Soft and weak west is what China needs, so they can continue to harvest our wealth.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Soft and weak west is what China needs, so they can continue to harvest our wealth.

        Yeah, that's what's happening. Those evil Chinese. Thank fuck our own leaders would never try to enrich themselves at our expense.

        Even as the planet burns there's always some nasty little xenophobe trying to stir up shit.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Soft and weak west is what China needs, so they can continue to harvest our wealth.

          Sabroni, I think your blinkers are on too tight.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Hammer and Sickle

    Go on, buy another Chinese made shiny object.

    Soon enough Karl Marx will knock at your door.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Hammer and Sickle

      This is fantastic news.

      Instead of a country of a billion people pushing all their kids into STEM through intensive hot-house schools and government funded university and research labs, then backed by Chinese entrepreneurs and massive local production capability.

      We will have a generation who can only recite state truth while working as willing drones in low skilled jobs doing the dirty boring assembly that it isn't worth us doing.

      Now if only we could persuade the USA to despise science and learning, send all it's best and brightest into pointless finance jobs and have all its rural workers die off from poor health and injecting snake oil.

      Finally we will be triumphant !!!!!

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Stars and Stripes

      Go on, but another US made shiny object.

      Soon enough your culture will be subsumed by American greed and stupidity, with idiotic bigots spouting "news" 24 hours a day and a barely comprehensible twat in charge of the country.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Stars and Stripes

        I honestly can't tell whose "culture" you are ranting about ... slow down, wipe the spittle off your chin, and at least attempt to communicate. Ta.

  7. jollyboyspecial

    The regime in China has absolutely nothing to do with Marxism in practice. But then there has never been a "communist" country that has practiced Marxism.

    In every one of those countries Marxism was just a way of conning your way to power by convincing the population then installing yourself as a dicator andtaking control of the whole damn country and its means of production.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      In every one of those countries Marxism was just a way of conning your way to power by convincing the population then installing yourself as a dicator andtaking control of the whole damn country and its means of production.

      Which is precisely what Marxism is for.

    2. nijam Silver badge

      It has always been true, from national goverment right down to a very local level, that easiest way to exploit people is to convince them that your enemies are exploiting them.

      1. jake Silver badge

        "Keep people from their history, and they are easily controlled." —Karl Marx

        "Take away a nation's heritage and they are more easily persuaded." —Karl Marx

  8. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    A country catching up from its socialist poverty days by opening itself up to the free market capitalists in the world. Something socialists of the world need to seriously think about.

    1. Al fazed
      WTF?

      Re: Ha

      It wasn't Socialism which caused the poverty, same as it ever was greedy pigs wanting more than they can eat, same as it is out side of China. It's a human thing to blame others as a way of distracting attention from the greedy scoffing of everything that is going on everywhere there is a human being human.

      The Intenet has only speeded up the greed. Who's to blame ? Why pick on the Chinese, or the Russians, when it's really the Isrealis doing all the dirty deeds............

      ULP!

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Ha

        @Al fazed

        "It wasn't Socialism which caused the poverty"

        In every example of socialist government the nearest to a success story is N.Korea and its all poverty every time.

        "It's a human thing to blame others as a way of distracting attention from the greedy scoffing of everything that is going on everywhere there is a human being human."

        Human being human is part of it. Trying to make a perfect society for a hypothetical creature that does not behave like a human but applying it to humans doesnt work.

        "Why pick on the Chinese, or the Russians, when it's really the Isrealis doing all the dirty deeds............"

        Eh? I dont understand that.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: the nearest to a success story is N.Korea and its all poverty every time.

          What about Cuba?

          And do we factor in the wests attempts to destroy all socialist governments when discussing this or are we going to conveniently ignore the billiions spent by the Americans and Europe to achieve this?

          With capitalism causing global warming I'm not so sure you're backing the right horse. Communism didn't destroy the planet.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: the nearest to a success story is N.Korea and its all poverty every time.

            "Communism didn't destroy the planet."

            Not from lack of trying. They might manage, eventually.

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: the nearest to a success story is N.Korea and its all poverty every time.

            @sabroni

            "What about Cuba?"

            Isnt that the place where Cubans try to swim or make rafts to try and reach the US?

            "And do we factor in the wests attempts to destroy all socialist governments when discussing this or are we going to conveniently ignore the billiions spent by the Americans and Europe to achieve this?"

            Can do, but then the opposite was also true. The difference is that capitalist countries won the cold war and once the iron curtain fell the stark difference of the advanced capitalists vs the poor socialist countries was available for all to see. Hell socialism made Germans poor as east vs west showed.

            "With capitalism causing global warming"

            Oh christ that doesnt work. Even the 'science' behind it demands economic growth to deal with MMCC Co2 theory and socialism has so far demonstrated to be not the way to achieve that.

            "Communism didn't destroy the planet."

            I am not sure you know of communism. But its definitely highly destructive.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: the nearest to a success story is N.Korea and its all poverty every time.

              Just one of many examples of what the West got up to during the Cold War and now papered over by apologists and hardcore rightists: What the United States Did in Indonesia

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: the nearest to a success story is N.Korea and its all poverty every time.

                OMG! We must prosecute all those responsible for allowing this outrage!

                What's that you say? We can't prosecute them because they are all dead?

                Well, we can't let it go unpunished! We must find somebody else to blame!

                I know! Prosecute their children, unto the third and fourth generation!

                Seriously, dude, generational sin is, like, so 6th Century BCE. Get with the times.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like China's playing catch-up to the West

    >> construction of a nationwide online rumor-burying mechanism

    >> a fact-checking service that offers party-approved counterfactuals.

    >> grading and classifying of professionally run social media accounts,

    >> regulating use of internet slang

    >> encouraging netizens to point out perceived "uncivilized" cyber activity

    Hmm ... sounds like everything Google, Youtube, Twitter, FaceBook, governments, police departments, et al are (have been) doing.

  10. Sub 20 Pilot

    Sounds like the BBC.

  11. sharpwolverine

    China doesn't want internet. It wants AOL

    1. jake Silver badge

      Nah.

      Even AOL, for all its myriad faults, allowed the bad-mouthing of those in power, and calling them on their bullshit.

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