Chinese Censors Slow the Internet and US Businesses

Published on Author croland
An Internet cafe in Beijing in 2011

Because of the infrastructure of China’s Internet censorship and surveillance system, most online traffic runs at a limping pace, whether accessed directly or through a virtual private network (VPN), software designed to allow users to circumvent the Great Firewall and access websites currently blocked in the country. The wide-ranging list of blocked sites include,, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. In recent years, the online censors’ ability to detect VPNs and terminate connections has grown so much so that anyone using such software spends a majority of their web time starting and restarting their programs and refreshing Web pages.

There are political, business, and productivity costs to China’s Internet censorship and surveillance systems. For the past two years the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing is concerned on behalf of US firms on issues such as market access, intellectual property rights, and labor costs. The 2013 Business Climate Survey, released on March 29, sheds light on how US firms feel about the Great Firewall.

Of the 325 respondents, 55 percent see China’s Internet restrictions as negatively or somewhat negatively affecting their capacity to do business there. About 62 percent said the disruption of search engines make it more difficult to obtain real-time market data, share time-sensitive information, or collaborate with colleagues based outside of China. And 72 percent said that slow and unstable Internet speeds impede their ability to efficiently conduct business in China.

Currently, the top business risks in China include inconsistent regulatory interpretation, corruption, and rising labor costs. Therefore, are the Internet issues US companies are facing in China just minor annoyances or are theses issues really having a negative affects business? 

Source: Businessweek

3 Responses to Chinese Censors Slow the Internet and US Businesses

  1. Since I was one of the first email users at W&L, and learned to use gophers before the development of html code and the first browser (Netscape) I remember SLOW internet. So while I see something to this, I wonder how much it’s an annoyance rather than a barrier. Furthermore, the BCS is a survey of US firms, and replying negatively will help generate PR on the need for reform. I have to assume respondents are cognizant of this, and skew their responses accordingly.

  2. It makes sense that business realize a lot of exposure through the internet. However, it is likely that most of the exposure eliminated by censorship of websites like bloomberg and businessweek effects only large firms as they are most likely to appear on such sites.. Presumable these firms have a large enough foot print on the business community that they gain exposure to Chinese markets without the internet. Therefore I claim that it may be more of an annoyance than a hindrance.

  3. These are very high percents for businesses to be generally displeased. This could come back to harm China in the future because with the free sharing of information the world moves at a very fast pace. If these problems with the internet keep up, they could see some businesses moving elsewhere.