Graduates have so many opportunities in the current globalised industry. Your career could take you out of town, interstate or even overseas. China is one of the many places a media and communication graduate could end up working in.

China is a country with 1.3 billion people making it the largest media market in the world. It also has the world’s largest online population. It is difficult, however, to reach the market in China due to censorship. The media systems in China are monitored by extensive government censorship. China owns an extensive web filtering system, dubbed the “Great Firewall of China” which blocks thousands of sites using URL filtering and keyword censoring. Thousands of cyber-police watch the web and material deemed politically and socially sensitively is filtered. The Chinese government continues to keep tight reins on both traditional and new media to avoid potential subversion of its authority. Anything that is considered a threat to political stability, from photos, videos to even search terms themselves, are banned.

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Whilst living in a world without Facebook, Twitter and YouTube may seem like a nightmare, this is the reality in China. As an international student from a small city near Shanghai in China I had no idea what any of these social media sites were. When I started junior school, American exchange students visited and we became good friends. Before they flew home they asked me if I had a Facebook account and explained that it was a popular social media site. This was the first time I heard about Facebook.

The Chinese government have developed their own social media and search engine sites which are only used in China. An example is Baidu which is used in the place of Google. Tencent owns instant messenger WeChat, which is the most popular social media platform in China. China also has the world’s largest online video market which has posed a challenge to traditional television. These are, of course, all under the supervision of the Chinese government. Citizens try to break through the firewalls and censorship by using virtual private networks (VPNs). This is quite a challenge as the government continuously strengthens its firewall to allow it to intercept data traffic to and from individual IP addresses.

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When I arrived in Australia, one of the first things I did was create a Facebook account. I found the network to be vast and broad with many companies also on Facebook. This was so different to media and communication in China. People talk about everything on Facebook and are able to share their thoughts and ideas as well as publicly argue! It is a completely free social environment with no constraints. The complete opposite to what I experienced in China.

There is hope that China’s media industry will be more open and free in the future. China is getting more connections through globalisation and the media industry in China is changing to encompass audience’s desire for international content. The transformation from a stiff government owned structure into new business models, from traditional press into new media and innovative forms of news production are in process. The changes being introduced to the Chinese media and communication industry will hopefully allow a different communication experience for future generations.

by Ivy Zhang

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