Western speech freedom not fit for China

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-11 0:33:11

In Western media reports, Chinese lawmakers and political advisors are no more than yes-men or puppets. During this year's two sessions, their accusation of China's "regulation" of public discourse is still bitter, regardless of the fact that Chinese journalists have thrust many sharp questions at these deputies, most of whom have also given candid answers.

Unlike the past few years when media attention was mostly paid to the entertaining side of the two sessions, this year has seen most reports focusing on proposals and bills initiated by lawmakers and political advisors. This is a very positive sign for the evolution of China's political life.

Freedom of speech is an old and controversial topic about China. It has become complicated under the provocations of some Western forces. It is known to all that freedom of speech has limits, and these limits vary in different countries. In the West, democratic elections and checks and balances have resulted in a lot of clamor to their political life, which, to some extent, has downplayed the existence of political taboos and limitations. Besides, having a dominant say in international affairs, the West has rarely made itself a target of accusations in terms of free speech.

China is different. It is a communist country and this status quo, as a fundamental political norm, is written into its Constitution. Any denial of this norm is illegal and should be opposed. Some people argue that it is acceptable in the Western world that people can launch verbal attacks on their government and even their presidents, so why is this not allowed in China? The argument seems ostensibly reasonable, but the same activities are usually regarded differently in two divergent political and legal systems.

China, in fact, has been exploring a constructive path to expand its public discourse. The authorities embrace the widening space for speech made by new technologies, especially the Internet.

However, regrettably, some influential activists in public opinion abuse their freedom and propagate some subversive and destructive ideas, which have damaged the country's unity and caused some instability within the society. Measures to address these problems are inevitable.

China's biggest challenge is how to carefully and skillfully expand constructive criticism in public opinion. Neither can it be too polarized to rip society apart, nor can it be too restricted to silence the majority.

It is not an easy task to maintain the balance between encouraging constructive criticism and maintaining social unity. But China is committed to finding the equilibrium point. That is why in recent years, China's regulation of speech is shifting between tense and loose.

Some argue that it is a test of the authorities' openness, but actually, it needs all of society to draw lessons and experiences from the process.

China won't take as a reference the Western world's response to China's regulation of speech. It has to find out a system of free speech that is appropriate for Chinese society. In this process, the authorities should be more tolerant, and the opinion-makers should be wise in using their freedom of expression.

Posted in: Editorial

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