Let freedom ring! Chinese internet users are about to get bitten by the social media bug. Facebook, Twitter, and many other otherwise banned websites are to become accessible within the country.
Is there a catch? Of course there is. There usually is a catch. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
In this case, the Chinese citizens will have to be within the mere 11-square-mile free trade zone (or FTZ for short) to browse such websites. Within the financial trade district, Shanghai hopes that this FTZ and its acceptability to social media will leave a mark upon the socioeconomic world. They want to appear as a leader in economic trade – a rival to London and New York, even.
This decision is quite similar to Deng Xiaoping’s move to open Shenzhen up to foreign investors over 30 years ago. That idea ultimately led to China’s ongoing economic boom. Will the inclusion of Facebook and Twitter have the same affect? The Chinese administration hopes so.
In local newspaper the South China Morning Post, an unnamed government source reported, “we must think about how we can make them feel like at home.” The goal is also to make foreigners who work and invest in China happy.
This move also allows for possible investors to see exactly how special the FTZ is. Although how allowing social media into this area will make Shanghai seem special is a bit boggling. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to go into a place where there wasn’t social media? Wouldn’t there be less stress?
There are, of course, concerns about opening the virtual blockade. Chinese officials worry that the knowledge of the outside world will create social instability or at least undermine it. Hopefully, there won’t be any unrest like the events during the Arab Spring.
All eyes will surely be on China. September 29th, 2013 will be the dawn of a Chinese economic and technical revolution. Mark your calendars!