WTO provides legal channels to challenge Chinese rules on the regulation of social media

The progressive digitalization in China penetrating all spheres of life nurtures in many observers a feeling that when one wants to anticipate the future of the Internet, he needs to look at the developments in this regard in China. On the one hand, China has gradually evolved into a leader in the field of digitalization, which makes the life of its users easier in many aspects. On the other hand, there is also another side of the coin which should not be ignored. Chinese internet is monitored. However, in this regard, it needs to be mentioned that monitoring does not only serve the interests of detecting some forms of opposition, which might spark a revolution. The monitoring of the data shared on the Internet is also used to get information about the moods of the public, which might serve as an incentive for the Government´s efforts and steps to improve the lives of its citizens. Nevertheless, Chinese Internet is controlled. This control resulted also in the ban of foreign, mostly US-based, social media platforms and Internet services, such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube in China. Danny Friedmann in his chapter “Rise and Demise of US Social Media in China: A Touchstone of WTO and BIT Regulations” in the book “China´s Influence on Non-Trade Concerns in International Economic Law” explores the topic of Internet in Chinese context through the lens of foreign tech companies with ambitions to penetrate the Chinese market and provide their services in China. Danny Friedmann suggests possible legal channels that might be used by foreign companies to enforce a position on the Chinese market and national treatment comparable to Chinese companies. However, as the author points out, even an eventually successful result of a dispute before the WTO does not guarantee that foreign companies would gain access to Chinese market. The issues concerning the Internet are too politically sensitive to be addressed and solved only through legal channels.