INTERNET: Living with the Great Firewall of China

(Reuters) - The “Great Firewall of China” – the world’s most extensive effort to try to control cyberspace – has become more formidable under President Xi Jinping.

Authorities have closed some video and audio streaming websites, limited online access to foreign and “foreign-inspired” television programs, stiffened penalties for “spreading rumor” via social media and restricted access to virtual private networks.

For the very wired “Class of 2012”, these measures are largely minor inconveniences. Some buy into the idea that the Internet needs to be closely managed. Others just find workarounds.

Here are their views on living with the Great Firewall.

Wang Siyue, a product specialist at an Internet education company:

“I’m sure these restrictions will exist in the short term, but over the long term they can’t block the development of this industry domestically. I believe there will be even more internet companies and startup opportunities.”

Zhang Weixuan, an assistant secretary at a software company:

“For contemporary youth in China right now, our channels for information are broad, including the use of VPNs, or a variety of means through which we can be exposed to foreign news.”

“For me (blocking VPNs) won’t have a great impact. Maybe for second- and third-tier cities, or for those young people who have never had the experience of going abroad, or whose English is not very good, they may be subject to the impact of the country’s more stringent controls over propaganda.”

Fu Shiwei, an assistant university teacher:

“My students are very tech savvy so they help me solve things like looking up academic information or stay updated on global current affairs. I think it’s okay. The government keeps everyone in line, so I don’t have any strong opinions about the government.”

Zuo Aining, a senior credit risk associate, based in Washington, D.C.:

“I personally think that for the Internet, as a very open platform, certain strategies for oversight are very necessary ... what I’m concerned about are things like terrorist attacks.”

“Maybe if you make better use of systems to supervise the Internet you’ll have a more positive impact in terms of protecting national security.”

Qin Lijuan, a senior wealth management consultant:

“If I want some news I usually just ask friends abroad. I’ve got a lot of classmates who are abroad, who studied there or are working there.”

GRAPHIC: Great Firewall of China

Reporting by Beijing and Shanghai bureaus; Editing by Philip McClellan