At the second World Internet Conference held earlier this month, President Xi Jinping defended China’s strict cyber regulations and called for mutual respect – and lack of interference in the nation’s online sovereignty.
“We should respect every country’s own choice of their Internet development path and management model, their Internet public policy and the right to participate in managing international cyberspace,” said the President. “There should be no cyber-hegemony, no interfering in others’ internal affairs, no engaging, supporting or inciting cyber-activities that would harm the national security of other countries.”
This appeal doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the Communist Party has already imposed extreme media censorship on its 649 million users. This includes blocking and filtering, content suppression, media manipulation, deep packet inspection searches — and harsh consequences for any citizen or press official who violates them.
China is already the “world’s worst abuser of Internet freedom.” Continued discussion of the country’s cyber-security laws will likely result in an increase of Internet regulations “out of security concerns,” according to a media studies professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
President Xi Jinping has considerably stricter views about the internet than his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who reasoned that close management of the Internet within the country was important as it could be used as a tool to “guide public opinion”, as well affect “security of information and the stability of the state.”
Since Xi took power three years ago, he has perpetuated the concern of cyber control within the country, passing security laws to assist in furthering the establishment of cyber-sovereignty and ordering an overall upgrade of the national firewall.
Qiao Mu, professor of media studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University commented on the President’s speech, saying it was “a clear message that China’s Internet policy is part of social and political control.” “Internet policy in China is never an entity in itself or separated from its fundamental political system,” Qiao said. “It’s increasingly become a key component of China’s political governing mechanism.”
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