China may be making it even harder for global organizations to market products and services to Chinese consumers. The Chinese ministry of Industry and Information Technology has released a proposal to censor any domain names not registered within China. These domains would be automatically blocked by the great firewall of China. While the proposal states this will help prevent national security leaks and attempts to “undermine national unity,” it is just one of many measures by the communist government to maintain complete control over what Chinese citizens have access to on the internet.
Long History of Censorship
To many people, this is no surprise, as websites like Facebook, Google and YouTube have been blocked by the great firewall for years. To others, this is a disturbing development, particularly those trying to break into the growing market of over 1.3 billion Chinese consumers. While only approximately 50% of Chinese citizens have access to the internet today, that still accounts to over 700 million people, with the rapid growth of additional users by the millions every month- this size market growth is very appealing to both globally recognized brands and new startups.
So what happens if this measure passes and all sites outside of china are effectively blocked by the great firewall of china? Companies will be forced to build a presence within the bounds of the firewall, meaning registering .cn or .china domains with Chinese registrars, hosting websites and DNS servers within the Chinese mainland, and abiding by the strict Chinese rules governing the content allowed within the Great Firewall. According to the full draft of the document found at cnbeta.com, these rules include vague sentiments such as:
• Not “harming national honor”
• Not “violating state religious policies”
• Disturbing “social order or undermining social stability.”
Basically, if this measure passes it will give the Chinese government even more authority to discriminate against any website or company they see fit, as well as chose which products, sites and services Chinese citizens are allowed to consume.
This also means that companies that already host websites within the Chinese mainland may be affected if they use domain names or DNS servers not allowed by this proposed Chinese regulation. As the measure is currently open for public viewing until April 25th, it is currently unclear how much of the proposed rules will actually be implemented.
Is Your Website Blocked by the Great Firewall of China?
If you are interested in growing your customer base in china, or checking your website performance from China right now, run a test to find out how your website currently looks from behind the great firewall of china (as well as over 2 dozen additional locations around the world).