Chinese authorities may be able to only selectively censor their citizens' internet use from now on. On Tuesday, word spread that China might lift its ban on Facebook, the New York Times' website, and Twitter in a 28.7-sq. kilometer "free-trade zone" in Shanghai.
Technology has become a vital element of 21st century life, so it is no surprise that China has finally decided to "update" its status on banned websites to further prosper in the financial arena.
The South China Morning Post reported the news of the lifted ban, according to government sources. The decision, which permits internet uses to access social media websites, is the Chinese government's attempt to gain interest and attention from foreign investors since the Shanghai free-trade zone was initially created to "see how economic and financial reforms might work in the rest of the country."
In order to provide the internet service in a country that is notorious for monitoring websites, the government will consider bids from foreign telecommunications companies to provide connection to the zone. This will not only give China the international attention it craves, but will also boost the economy by appealing to these investors.
Should everyone begin to accept China's Facebook friend request? Not quite. Although the ban on social media in this area is now lifted, there is not complete liberalization in the Chinese government's views of social media. It will still use surveillance and practice censorship over the websites used outside of the free trade zone. A closer look at the incentives behind this recent policy change reveals that they are not as black-and-white as they may seem. It will take more than unblocking Facebook in a free-trade zone to believe that this act is for the public good and not for the Chinese government's economic advantage.