China's closed Internet. Starting in the early 2000s, China closed its Internet to most of the outside world. The Great Firewall of China was coined from the Great Wall of China, the series of walls built to protect territories starting in the 7th century BC.
A Brief Respite
Until the Chinese government shut it down, for a few weeks in February 2021, the by-invitation-only and audio-only Clubhouse app enabled citizens from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China to chat about culture and entertainment as well as air their grievances. For a brief moment, people were able to hear both sides of the story.
A Great Hive of Firewalls
In Kai Strittmatter's 2020 book "We Have Been Harmonized - Life in China's Surveillance State," he quotes David Bandurski, who wrote in the Hong Kong Free Press "Today, the Great Firewall no longer really describes what's going on in China. It's more accurate to talk about a Great Hive of firewalls around the individual."
The Real Wall
Although 5,500 miles in total length, the stone walls plus a couple hundred miles of trenches extend a little more than 4,000 miles. The remainder is made up of hills and rivers that create natural boundaries. (Image courtesy of Stephen Richman.)