With the number of registered users in China surging over 2 million, the authorities in Beijing appear to be very concerned about the Internet’s threat to stability.
Agence France-Presse recently reported that, based upon information provided by a Hong Kong human rights group, the Chinese Government intends to increase its surveillance of online users.
According to the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, Beijing will form an Internet surveillance and computer crime detection unit.
The center stated that this unit would access personal e-mail in pursuit of dissidents and that this was a violation of privacy.
There are other industry observers who contend that the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will attempt to control the Internet industry.
An analyst specializing in China’s science and technology industries told Asia.InternetNews that in understanding China, “. . .it is vital to keep the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Government State Council in mind.”
“The CCP runs China and is intimately involved in every aspect of Chinese
life. All members of the State Council are also CCP members and their primary interest lies in keeping the CCP in power,” he said. “It is apparent, at present, that the CCP views the Internet more as a threat than a vehicle.”
According to the analyst, the Internet in China will continue to grow but it will be limited, due to the cost of hardware and access, to individuals who can gain access to the Internet through their “danwei” (work unit) making it easier for the government to observe users.
Currently, online access continues to be confined to the Chinese elite–business professionals, intellectuals and technicians with primary interest in science and technology, financial information, or business management systems and techniques.