Fredrik Erixon and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama: Chinese Censorship Equals Protectionism

From Wall Street Journal:

Beijing’s methods to censor the Internet are becoming ever more repressive. In recent weeks, at least 700 Web sites seem to have been shut down or blocked—on top of tens of thousands of foreign online services that already were inaccessible. Individuals have been banned from registering new domain names in China, and authorities are turning the heat up on existing domains. This is correctly viewed as a major free-speech problem, but that’s only part of the damage Beijing is doing. Blocking the Internet blocks commerce and trade, and China’s latest moves may well run afoul of its World Trade Organization commitments.

China has the highest number of online users in the world with 300 million, surpassing even the United States. That makes it among the most appealing markets for foreign technology companies. The new censorship drive fences off this market and reserves it only for government-registered actors that are politically reliable in the eyes of Beijing. The regulations apply just as much to Web sites outside China, which must now apply for a license from Chinese authorities to avoid being blocked.

Read also Protectionism Online: Internet Censorship and International Trade Law by Brian Hindley and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama.

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