The quickly soaring relations between China and the United States has resulted in both countries looking for as much leverage as they can find. For the USA it’s relying on its own economic strength to protect against any serve suffering, and for China it seems as its internet firewall may be a new weapon in the escalating trade battles.
According to Bloomberg.com, the Chinese online population is measured at 731 million people, which could be very lucrative to USA tech companies if they had access. The reason for the limited or completely restricted access is due to the Great Chinese Firewall or the rules, standards, legislature and technologies which governs the Chinese’ online activities and accessibility.
The firewall for example forbids access to popular US sites like YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter and US media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post. The firewall could be China’s no-so-obvious weapon against US tariffs, the Chinese government could easily add more US tech companies to the list of restrictive access.
China does this by adding new standards to its firewall, which usually starts as recommendations but are likely to be approved by the government. Later on these standards can become a part of China’s legal framework. These new Chinese standards can increase the financial costs of foreign companies, slow the pace of operating in China and sometimes turn firms against doing business in China.
The biggest problem the US may face in the long term is that China’s use of internet standards may not end, even if the US should over turn its tariff policy, these standards could actually become Chinese law and the official way of doing business in China.
By Mokgethi Mtezuka’