China: July 20, 2004

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Although the Chinese armed forces have taken the lead in organizing cyberwarfare units (several thousand troops and civilian experts in units that specialize in internet based combat), they are finding Chinese internet use to be a growing problem. There are currently 87 million Internet users in China (a 28 percent increase in one year). While that's only seven percent of the population, it's a very well off and well educated fraction of the population. Sixty percent of them are male, and 54 percent are 24 years old, or younger.  Moreover, these Internet users are spread throughout China, meaning that any information the government does not want distributed, can now get around government controls and to the general population. The government has been investing heavily in software and hardware to control what Chinese Internet users can access. But these censorship techniques have not stopped stories that do the most damage. If there is an event that would embarrass the government, it will get through to most Internet users, and this has increasingly caused the government to respond to the public will. This has made the Communist dictatorship much less capable of operating like a dictatorship and is making democracy more acceptable to more people in the ruling Communist Party. The alternative is another revolution, fueled by the Internet. 

 

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