Internet regulations prompted by threats

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/27 23:18:39

Western criticism of cyber policy biased


Flourishing development of China's Internet industry has proved that the country's increasingly stringent cyberspace regulations have not stifled innovation and refuted mounting criticism from the West, experts said.

Many Western media including The New York Times, CNN and Foreign Policy have criticized China's Internet policy for getting stricter in 2017. Foreign Policy published an article on Friday with the title "China is trying to give Internet a death blow," claiming China is "the only country in the world where the Internet gets worse every year."

However, China's Internet data tells a different story.

According to China Internet Network Information Center's (CINIC) 40th China Statistical Report on Internet Development published on August 4 in Beijing, China currently has more than 751 million Net users. In the past six months, the number of Net users increased by 19.92 million, a 1.1 percent increase from the previous year. The report said the growth in Net users is a new driver for the country's economy and a new advantage for China to win in international competition.

The innovation and development of the Internet industry is also flourishing. The report said the user bases of online education, online ride-hailing services and shared bikes have reached 100 million to 200 million. The newly emerged shared bike companies have even started to expand into developed countries including the US, the UK and Singapore. 

"The criticism from the Western media is biased and it ignores China's development and achievements in the Internet industry in the past few years. The censorship has not created obstacles for innovation and development, and this proves that the policy is at least suitable for China," Shen Yi, a professor from the Fudan University Cyberspace Research Center, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Not only China, but many other countries, including the US and many European countries, have been strengthening control over the Internet for national security reasons … The idea of sovereignty also applies to cyberspace, and countries have a right to implement policies to govern their own cyberspace. The West has no right to condemn China on cyberspace governance," Shen said.

US Republican Senators Rob Portman and Democrat Senator Chris Murphy on December 23, 2016 announced that their Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act - legislation designed to help American allies counter foreign government propaganda from Russia, China, and other nations - has been signed into law as part of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report, according to Senator Portman's official website.

"This is a perfect example of the US' strengthening of Internet censorship. The reason for passing the bill is that the elites from both major political parties of the US believe that Russian cyber attacks and online rumors have impacted US domestic politics and election; even though there is no hard evidence yet. If the US has the right to do so, why should China be criticized for doing the same thing to defend itself from 'foreign government propaganda?'" Shen said.

"China didn't have Internet censorship at the very beginning. China's Internet censorship is a defensive measure which is prompted by threats from hostile foreign forces on cyberspace, mainly from the US. Many non-Western countries also want to improve their Internet governance and allow the public to enjoy a more relaxed and open cyberspace, but on the precondition that the West doesn't use the Internet as a tool for politics and diplomacy to interfere in and influence other countries' domestic affairs," Shen added.

Internet governance

In recent years, Western countries including the US and many European countries have been facing a serious threat of terrorism. Terrorists have rapidly expanded their presence online and organized many attacks.

"The Internet is a public good which could also be used by terrorists and criminals. If a country has no strict and effective censorship to control the Internet, the government cannot protect the security of its people," said Xie Jiangyong, an associate professor at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

Apart from terrorist and extremist information, rumors on controversial and sensitive topics are also threatening the stability of the society. For instance, fake news and online rumors caused violence during the Kenyan presidential election in 2017.

"Internet censorship can prevent the online threats from becoming reality and find time for the government to fundamentally solve the problem," Xie added.



Posted in: POLITICS

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