China Dominated the Factories, but are they dominating the Internet too?
Americans always buy the latest products on the market, but did you know China has shipped 11.3% more goods to the U.S last year, and China already makes many of our products? Some phones, toys, and general use items are all made in China. China is a land that has been in an economic boom since the days of Chairman Mao. In many ways, we depend on China for most of our products. Once upon a time, they actually bought our recyclable garbage and had it shipped to China so Chinese manufacturers could manufacture products from our garbage, only to sell it back to us. In many ways, China is, quite literally, the world’s factory.
However, China isn’t always the good guy, and even less so when you read about what China continues to do to their Muslim population, and it is evident that China is returning to controversial periods of its history.
For example, China now has its own version of the Soviet “gulag,” which were labor and death camps for those who were forced to be in them. The Chinese government is has dubbed these “gulags” “re-education camps.” Many Chinese citizens actually support these camps. One Chinese citizen told BBC, “There are tens of thousands of people there [in the camps] now. They have some problems with their thoughts” (BBC).
On top of “re-education” camps, China has now banned long beards, hijabs or any kind of headscarf, religious instruction of children, and Islamic sounding names, and profile Muslims at various government checkpoints.(BBC).
Beyond racial prejudice within its borders, China is taking its influence to the internet. Reddit, the famous front page of the internet, will get $150 million dollars from a Chinese company called Tencent, which is famous for being a key part of the Great Firewall of China (essentially Chinese internet censorship) and for being the parent company of PUBG, Inc, (the developers of PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds, a famous battle royale video game) and by extension, Tencent owns games like the “Arma” series, “Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds”, “Ring of Elysium”, and “PUBG Mobile”, all of which are notorious for collecting user’s data, regardless of their country of residence. And, to top it all off, “[Tencent also] owns about 12 percent of Snap, for instance, even though Snapchat is banned in China. Tencent also owns a piece of the chat app Discord even though, you guessed it, Discord is blocked in China” (Gizmodo). China has extended their power into western companies by buying out a significant amount of shares, which allows them to legally censor as they please because they now either own the company, or a large part of it.
What does all of this mean for everyone around the world? For the Chinese, it means life as normal, they just have to use VPNs to get around The Great Firewall. For Americans, it means watching what you buy or put your money into. If you have ever had a phone from ZTE, Huawei, or use Twitter, Discord, Reddit, or any game from Tencent Games, China now has a file on you.