Web police stations not to curb expression

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-7 1:13:01

When "Internet police stations" appear on China's major websites, will most netizens feel safer or not? The answer is surely a resounding "yes." It's the same way we feel when we see a local station or police on patrol in bustling streets.

After the Ministry of Public Security announced it will assign Internet police to major websites and Internet companies, a minority of people in China felt insecure, unlike the majority of the public. Some foreign media even criticized the move, saying that combined with the draft cyber security law and national security law, it will dent the freedom of online speech.

US-based Human Rights Watch Wednesday published a letter to China's National People's Congress Standing Committee accusing the Chinese government of an "obsession with Internet control" and of sending a "chilling message."

China has 640 million netizens, twice the size of the US population, and Chinese people are quick to be influenced by the Internet. 

As the Internet relates to crucial needs of the people, keeping it secure is a real and pressing need. Free speech is by no means the only problem in cyberspace and should not become the pivot of Internet-related affairs.

There are both free speech and taboos on the Internet and the majority, including most dissenters, is able to differentiate which is which.

Silencing everyone is definitely not the intention of the draft cyber security law or of setting up Internet police units.

To define freedom of speech represents a process of improving social governance to give the utmost freedom to people in speaking while not eroding the cohesion and unity of society. China has the largest group of netizens, one of the most dynamic Internet economies and probably the most influential online public opinion field. All these cannot exist if China considers freedom as taboo for the Internet.

China's Internet development shows a one-way path toward more freedom. China is unable to turn back. As an internal quality of China's modernization, freedom of speech can neither be strangled by plotting nor fostered in a romantic way. It will grow together with Chinese society and seek improvement in setbacks.

Those self-claimed defenders of free speech should gradually relax. Suppressing speech is often an illusion of the few. If they express opinions in accordance with the law and do not have malicious intentions to confront social governance, they should continue to speak bluntly, as many do now.

Many Western elites hope freedom of online speech will ultimately overthrow China's fundamental political system and repeal the Constitution. This should not be accepted by those who often give strong remarks online. Free speech will only be an embodiment of socialist China turning into a powerful country instead of into decline.

In China, the Internet is like our community that requires freedom and also security, just as we expect in real life. Surely, we should give a big welcome to the stationing of law enforcers in the online community.

Posted in: Editorial

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