Beijing defends Internet censorship as freedom through order

Beijing defends Internet censorship as freedom through order
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China’s internet czar on Wednesday defended the nation’s extensive Web censorship, insisting that “order” leads to broader freedoms, according to Reuters.

"Freedom is our goal. Order is our means," Lu Wei, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, told reporters at a briefing on the country’s upcoming World Internet Conference.

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China’s strict Internet policies, known as the Great Firewall, have intensified under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration, coinciding with a crackdown on freedom of expression online. Western services such as Facebook and Google’s email platform Gmail are prohibited from operating in China, while bloggers and online activists are regularly detained for “spreading rumors online” and “picking quarrels,” the U.S. non-governmental organization Freedom House reports.

Lu claimed Wednesday that if China’s policies were too restrictive, the online economy would not be growing so rapidly. But he insisted that Beijing would continue to determine what sites it allows to operate.

"We do not welcome those that make money off China, occupy China's market, even as they slander China's people,” Lu said. “These kinds of websites I definitely will not allow in my house.”

"I, indeed, may choose who comes into my house. They can come if they are friends," he said.

China has pinned many of its policies on a need to protect national security. A broad slate of cybersecurity laws the country passed earlier this spring require all technologies — including those belonging to foreign firms — to be “secure and controllable.”

Many U.S.-based Internet companies have sought to operate in China, which is home to the world’s largest population of Internet users, at around 650 million. But executives fear that some of China's policies could require them to turn over proprietary source code.

China is attempting to elevate the status of its second annual World Internet Conference, to be held later this month. Xi will speak at the event, which will be attended by the prime ministers of Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Experts say the event is part of an attempt to influence international Internet governance rules, according to Reuters.

Lu on Wednesday denied that Beijing engages in censorship, instead insisting that the government “manages” the Internet.

“It is a misuse of words if you say ‘content censorship.’ But no censorship does not mean there is no management,” Lu said, according to The Hong Kong Free Press.

“The Chinese government learnt how to manage the Internet from Western developed countries, we have not learnt enough yet,” Lu said.