GitHub serves as a repository for collaborative work in software development, with numerous open-source projects available and worked on by numerous coders, would-be coders, and others. It has been a paragon for a more open internet, with more open standards, and allowing for actual community-based troubleshoot and development. And it does so for anyone around the world.
However, China’s efforts to decouple from its dependencies on the Western world for anything technologically-related has been a reason for the country to invest not only on infrastructure and silicon manufacturing, but also in programming and all of the related branches of the technology tree. The scenario is not without precedent. Last July, Microsoft-owned GitHub cut off certain services from users in U.S.-sanctioned countries including Iran, Syria and Crimea, causing outrage and panic in the global developer community.
“If China does not have its own open-source community to maintain and manage source codes.. Our domestic software industry will be very vulnerable to uncontrollable factors,” said Huawei executive Wang Chenglu at an event last August.. Shortly after GitHub acted to comply with U.S. sanctions laws.
Gitee claims to have hosted over 10 million open-source repositories and provided services to over 5 million developers so far. For comparison, GitHub reported having 100 million repositories and around 31 million developers worldwide last November.
“The world should be one where a hundred flowers bloom. The foreign market has GitHub and other kinds of foundations. In China, there are various organizations dedicated to evangelizing open source software, as well as Gitee,” wrote (in Chinese) Open Source China founder who goes by the nickname ‘Hongshu’, or ‘Sweet Potato’.
“An open-source ecosystem can’t be built overnight. It’s a process of building a tower with sand. We have faith in the innovative power of Chinese developers. We also believe in our perseverance and strength to strive.”