Shanghai’s upcoming Free-Trade Zone will not feature the internet censorship measures implemented in the rest of the country, and will allow for its telecommunications services to be managed by foreign firms, SCMP reports in an exclusive.
This should likely be taken with a handful of salt, as some may remember that SCMP had a similar “exclusive” a few weeks back, in which government officials had “lifted control” of the internet in China’s luxury hotels, but it turned out that the venues were simply using VPNs.
It is exciting (potential) news nevertheless, and South China Morning Post published the details as reported by an anonymous source:
“In order to welcome foreign companies to invest and to let foreigners live and work happily in the free-trade zone, we must think about how we can make them feel like at home. If they can’t get onto Facebook or read The New York Times, they may naturally wonder how special the free-trade zone is compared with the rest of China,” said one of the government sources who declined to be named due to the highly political sensitive nature of the matter.[…]
The mainland’s three biggest telecommunications companies China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, which are all state-owned enterprises, have already been informed of the decision to allow foreign companies to compete with them for business in the free-trade zone in Shanghai, said the sources.
The Big Three didn’t raise complaints as they knew it was a decision endorsed by top Chinese leaders including Premier Li Keqiang, who is keen to make the free-trade zone a key proving ground for significant financial and economic reforms, the sources added. […]
Government sources told the Post earlier this month that the free-trade zone could be eventually expanded over the next few years to include the entire Pudong district, which covers 1,210.4 square kilometres, if the first-phase launch is proved a success in helping China to restructure its economy.
The city’s new Zone will apparently be an anarchist free-for-all of internet access, yuan exchange, and capitalism. It will initially be located in the Pudong New Area, including the Waigaoqiao duty-free zone, the Yangshan deepwater port, and the international airport, as seen in this map published by Global Times:
[Image via Hua Jiasun]