Is China-US rivalry spreading to internet?
Published: Jan 14, 2019 09:54 PM
In an email circulated in the University of California, Davis recently, the university's Office of the President warned students and faculty not to use messaging apps and social media including WeChat and WhatsApp or make "unfavorable political statements or postings on social media" while visiting China, suggesting their communications could be used against them by China's law enforcement agencies. With misgivings about visiting each other rising in both China and the US following the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Chinese tech giant Huawei's chief financial officer, the travel warning could bring about nothing but more paranoia forward China. 

If a person abides by laws in China while traveling there, conducting normal academic exchanges, why should he or she have to worry about using messaging apps? The US is believed to have launched a witch hunt against alleged Chinese academic espionage, Chinese students and scholars have more reasons to worry about their safety when traveling to the US. 

More importantly, is China's social media platform full of suppression of dissenting opinion as the West portrays? That's not the case. 

Statistics show that WeChat now has more than 1 billion active users every month. Users of the platform enjoy expression, convenience of communication and massive information sharing. 

But information circulated on WeChat is subject to regulations that target the spread of harmful information including pornography, violence and superstition. No country will allow social media to be a place to promulgate harmful content such as subverting the government, separatism, religious extremism, racism and terrorism. China therefore has regulated social media in accordance with the law to ensure activities are safe for society. 

China's firm resolution to clean up the online environment has drawn criticism from the West. But it has to be acknowledged that China is one of the few countries to have succeeded in internet governance: China's internet industry has continued prospering in recent years while the development of the internet didn't disrupt order in the country. 

With US suppression of Huawei, worries that the internet has split in two are surging. 

The development of the internet cannot be divided. But should the West view China's internet development and governance with bias, global internet development will be held back. 

blog comments powered by Disqus