Did you know that there are more Internet users in China than the entire population of the United States combined with the population of Russia, Japan, and Mexico? With all of those people online, the Chinese government censors what the people see. In order to protect their people from harmful information, the Communist government restricts the people from an open and full version of the Google search engine, Facebook and Twitter, The New York Times, and even Peppa Pig.
Why should the church be paying attention to the Internet usage and censorship that’s taking place in China? Why does this really matter?
China Needs Jesus More than China Needs Google
With over 802 million surfing the Internet on a daily basis, China has the highest population of Internet users in the world. However, there online experience is not the same as most other people around the world. The Chinese government restricts what the people of China can view online. They are not allowed to use Google as a search engine nor can they interact on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The Chinese government restricts the information that the people can receive as they seek protect their people from harmful messages in form of religious, social, political, and pop-culture ideas.
Make no mistake about it, Google wants China and the people of China want Google. With an estimated 1.92 billion people out of the total 4.1 billion worldwide Internet users are expected to make an online purchase in 2019, there is an ever expanding market to capture among the people of China. It doesn’t take a financial trade expert to see that this is a big deal centered on money. However, what the church must realize is that while the ongoing negotiations and discussions take place between China and major tech companies about how to work within the nation’s Internet policies—the church must pay close attention in order to be prepared to use the available technologies to deliver the gospel to China. The people of China need Jesus far more than they need Google. For the church, it’s not about money—it’s about good news for unreached people. The largest religious view in China presently is non-religious (43.5% of the 1.4 billion people). There is only 9.2% of the total population of China professing to be Christian. The nation of China needs Jesus.
Freedom of Speech Is Not the Same as Freedom of Search
While Google wants China, the tech giant is not interested in delivering Jesus to China. That’s not their goal. It’s not the goal of Wikipedia, Twitter, or Facebook either. They are all interested in the available financial market opportunities. As Google provides a search product for the people of China that filters out everything that’s prohibited such as competing religious views, political ideas, pop-culture trends, and other social information that the leadership of China forbids—Google will work within their system in order to capture the financial opportunities. Why is this important?
If search engines can restrict social trends and religious views from the people of China—the same exact thing can happen in the United States. In fact, there have been instances of Internet censorship that have been accused in recent years on platforms such as Twitter with people being banned or blocked or restricted due to their offensive information. This is critically important especially when you see pictures online of Google meeting with pro-abortion activists and organizations about how to deliver the message and resources of “reproductive freedom” to women around the world
Interestingly enough, such blocking is not the result of a Communist government working to control their people, but instead it’s based solely upon the opinion of the major social media companies. In other words, they’re in control of what is and what isn’t considered harmful or offensive. Is that really free speech? No, but the freedom of speech does not equate to the freedom to search or speak on social media platforms.
The church must continue to speak up and speak out online and in the social media spaces, however, we must be prepared for further censorship and restrictions as the progressive liberal views of our nation continue to spread. Until then, while the daylight remains, we must capitalize on these opportunities and continue to spread the hope of Jesus and the good news of the gospel to all peoples in order for the whole world to know the joy of Christ. The church cannot trust Google to be the megaphone for the gospel around the world. We can use technology while we can, but we must go and preach the gospel and plant churches in dark regions around the world regardless of what help tech companies provide along the journey.