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China’s Great Firewall Burns Its Economy

China’s “Great Firewall” and generally poor IT infrastructure are keeping internet speed down and hurting businesses. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Experts say the blocks that keep Chinese users from accessing services like Facebook, Twitter and Google Inc.’s online-video unit YouTube, are hurting businesses, slowing their traffic and hindering their use of a new generation of cloud-computing services like those offered by Google. […]

The American Chamber of Commerce in China said last year that nearly three-quarters of about 300 businesses it surveyed said unstable Internet access impedes their efficiency. About 40% said China’s censorship efforts have a negative business impact. […]

The lack of easy access to Internet services like Facebook and Google that the rest of the world takes for granted could reduce China’s global competitiveness, experts say, and put it at a disadvantage when competing for top talent.

China is currently ranked 94th in the world in average internet speed, and these slow connections and the lack of access to cloud computing software from productivity giants like Google are making it harder for businesses to operate within the country. This would be a problem under any circumstances, but it’s particularly problematic now that other developed countries are transitioning to information economies. For an increasing number of firms, fast, reliable internet has become a necessary condition for doing business, and China is falling behind.

Rolling back the Great Firewall won’t be popular with central planners intent on managing an increasingly restive population. China’s system of government, often hailed by enthusiasts as a model of technocratic excellence, has its share of successes, but the costs are real and they are growing.

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