In 1996, when only a few hundred thousand people were online in China, the government issued a historic edict.
At the time, few people noticed Beijing’s move to bar unfiltered access to the global Internet.
But this was the origin of the so-called “Great Firewall” – a separate Chinese Internet which over the years has become increasingly different from its more free-wheeling, and often problematic, western alternative.
Since then, China has pumped billions of dollars into building up, rigidly enforcing and censoring its version of the web – which is now used every day by close to one billion of the world’s estimated 4.5 billion Internet users.
It is a very different place – where the country’s government exerts far greater control and where citizens, broadly speaking, struggle to access information the state does not wish them to see.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, as tensions between the