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The Great Firewall of China


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Table of Contents

  • Map
  • Introduction: Early Warnings
  • Part 1: Wall
    • 1. Protests: Solidarity from Hong Kong to Tiananmen
    • 2. Over the Wall: China's First Email and the Rise of the Online Censor
    • 3. Nailing the Jello: Chinese Democracy and the Great Firewall
    • 4. Enemy at the Gates: How Fear of Falun Gong Boosted the Firewall
    • 5. Searching for an Opening: Google, Yahoo, and Silicon Valley's Moral Failing in China
  • Part 2: Shield
    • 6. Along Came a Spider: Lu Wei Reigns in the Chinese Internet
    • 7. Peak Traffic: Getting the Dalai Lama Online
    • 8. Filtered: The Firewall Catches up with Da Cankao
    • 9. Jumping the Wall: FreeGate, UltraSurf, and Falun Gong's Fight Against the Censors
    • 10. Called to Account: Silicon Valley's Reckoning on Capitol Hill
  • Part 3: Sword
    • 11. Uyghurs Online: Ilham Tohti and the birth of the Uyghur Internet
    • 12. Shutdown: How to Take Twenty Million People Offline
    • 13. Ghosts in the Machine: Chinese Hackers Expand the Firewall's Reach
    • 14. NoGuGe: The Ignominious End of Google China
    • 15. The Social Network: Weibo and the Last Free Speech Platform
    • 16. Gorillas in the Mist: Exposing China's Hackers to the World
  • Part 4: War
    • 17. Caught : The Death of the Uyghur Internet
    • 18. Key Opinion Leader: How Chinese Trolls Go After Dissidents Overseas
    • 19. Root and Stem: The Internet is More Vulnerable than You Think
    • 20. The Censor at the UN: China's Undermining of Global Internet Freedoms
    • 21. Sovereignty: When Xi Jinping Came for the Internet
    • 22. Friends in Moscow: The Great Firewall Goes West
    • 23. Plane Crash: China Helps Russia Bring Telegram to Heel
    • 24. One App to Rule Them All: How WeChat Opened Up New Frontiers of Surveillance
    • 25. Buttocks: Uganda's Internet Blackouts and Censorship Follow Beijing's Lead
  • Epilogue: Silicon Valley Won't Save You

About the Author

James Griffiths is a reporter and producer for CNN International, currently based in Hong Kong. He has reported from Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Australia for outlets including the Atlantic, Vice and the Daily Beast. He was previously a reporter and assistant editor at the South China Morning Post, where he played a key role in the paper's award winning coverage of the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong.


'An excellent book on China's online strategy ... Fascinating and eye-opening ... This is an exciting and sobering account of how freedom, which was never in the internet code in the first place, can be effectively curtailed with the tools that were supposed to liberate us.'

`The internet has long been a boon for the free exchange of information, but Griffiths argues that China's success at monitoring and censoring web traffic poses a cautionary tale for users around the world.'
New York Times

'Superb and perfectly timed. James Griffiths's The Great Firewall of China tells the twenty-year story of how the Chinese authorities have brought the internet to heel by slowly developing and enforcing the doctrine of "cyber-sovereignty" ... Griffiths has the journalist's knack of finding fascinating stories, and write[s] in an economical, highly readable style.'
Literary Review

'A timely look at the world's most sophisticated censorship system. Griffiths explains a technical subject - Beijing's internet controls - through the lens of Chinese politics and the logic of social movements.'
Financial Times

'A useful but alarming account. James Griffiths traces the development of Chinese cyberauthoritarianism and censorship from the 1990s to the present.'
Wall Street Journal

'The Great Firewall of China is a riveting read, revealing the questionable acts of states and corporations as they vie to shape the internet to their own ends. And Griffiths has an eye for the detail that brings anecdotes to life. Many of his stories show how offline and online lives merge in bizarre ways.'
New Scientist
`Griffiths has an eye for character and writes with impartial rigour. He effectively details how China built its alternative internet.'
New Statesman'An eye-opening historical picture shows how China's online strategy takes aim at the solidarity of its citizens - aided by US tech companies.'
Guardian'Engaging storytelling and careful research ... authoritative and compelling. It is a cautionary tale for us all.'
Science Magazine

'The book's strength is in Griffiths's measured tone and general even-handedness. He is as critical - more despairing than scathing - of the American tech industry as he is of Chinese government policy, and notes that much of the technical apparatus used to enforce China's restrictive version of the internet was supplied, at least initially, by American firms.'
Washington Monthly

'The book is well worth a read for anyone who wants to know more generally about online censorship, China's emerging social credit system, and the concept of cyber-sovereignty (in which each nation controls its own Internet). Griffiths also provides food for thought for the coming conversations about human rights online and whether and how we can regulate the Internet in a way that serves the common good.'
Forbes'A readable, well-documented history of the internet in China ... Griffiths writes in a fluent, storytelling style.'
Asian Review of Books

`The definitive guide to the development of the internet in China. Griffiths' book is also an urgent and much needed reminder about how China's quest for cyber sovereignty is undermining global Internet freedom.'
Kristie Lu Stout, host of CNN's News Stream and On China

`Readers will come away startled at just how fragile the online infrastructure we all depend on is and how much influence China wields - both technically and politically.'
Jason Q. Ng, author of Blocked on Weibo

`Griffiths has written an important and incisive history of the Chinese internet that introduces us to the government officials, business leaders, and technology activists struggling over access to information within the Great Firewall.'
Adam M. Segal, author of The Hacked World Order

`A gripping and illuminating account of how the Chinese state fell in and out of love with the internet - and what it means for China and for the rest of the world.'
Jonathan Sullivan, Director of the China Policy Institute

`Griffiths' vivid and compelling account untangles the complex evolution of China's internet controls, providing both valuable context for recent events and a solid foundation for understanding future developments.'
Samuel Wade, Deputy Editor, China Digital Times

`A savvy journalist with a keen eye for the telling anecdote and an interest in big questions, Griffiths skilfully traces China's efforts to control the internet. He also makes important moves beyond China's borders to highlight the global implications.'
Jeffrey Wasserstrom, co-author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know

`Exhaustively researched and wonderfully written, the book moves effortlessly between gripping narratives from the frontlines of digital struggle to trenchant analysis of the formation and evolution of China's Great Firewall.'
Eli Friedman, Cornell University

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