The Great Firewall of China

Talk Wednesday March 13th 2019, 7:00 pm

Join us in the forum to discuss James Griffiths’ new book, The Great Firewall of China, as it exposes the world’s biggest and most sophisticated system of internet censorship – and what it means for freedoms all around the world.

Once little more than a glorified porn filter, China’s ‘Great Firewall’ has evolved into the most sophisticated system of online censorship in the world. As the Chinese internet grows and online businesses thrive, speech is controlled, dissent quashed, and attempts to organise outside the official Communist Party are quickly stamped out. But the effects of the Great Firewall are not confined to China itself.

Through years of investigation James Griffiths gained unprecedented access to the Great Firewall and the politicians, tech leaders, dissidents and hackers whose lives revolve around it. As distortion, post-truth and fake news become old news James Griffiths shows just how far the Great Firewall has spread. Now is the time for a radical new vision of online liberty.

James Griffiths talks about his book with bestselling author Paul French – who is no stranger to Chinese censorship himself – and Anna Bacciarelli, who spearheaded Amnesty UK’s successful (for now) Google Drop Dragonfly campaign. They discuss how the Firewall is affecting human rights and journalistic freedoms in China, as well as all over the world as the model is actively exported to countries from Russia to in the Africa continent.


Born in London and educated there and in Glasgow, Paul French has lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. As a leading expert on North Korea he is a widely published analyst and commentator on Asia and has written a number of books dealing with China’s pre-1949 history, Asian politics and current affairs. His previous books include a history of North Korea, a biography of Shanghai adman and adventurer Carl Crow, and a history of foreign correspondents in China.Paul was awarded the 2013 Edgar for best fact crime for his international best-seller Midnight in Peking.




James Griffiths is a reporter and producer for CNN International, currently based in Hong Kong. He has reported from Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Australia for outlets including the Atlantic, Vice and the Daily Beast. He was previously a reporter and assistant editor at the South China Morning Post, where he played a key role in the paper’s award winning coverage of the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong.




Anna Bacciarelli is a Technology and Human Rights Researcher and Advisor at Amnesty International, where she investigates the impact of developments in artificial intelligence, big data and automated decision-making on human rights. She advocates for human rights protections in the creation and use of technology around the world, and jointly led Amnesty’s campaign calling on Google to Drop Project Dragonfly, after it was revealed that the company planned to u-turn and comply with the Chinese government’s strict censorship and surveillance laws last year.


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