China’s cyber chief is dismissing criticism that his country’s internet is too censored, saying that order is a means to online freedom.
Lu Wei, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, says if the government’s control of the internet was too restrictive, China’s online market would not be developing as quickly as it is.
“Indeed, we do not welcome those that make money off China, occupy China’s market, even as they slander China’s people. These kinds of websites I definitely will not allow in my house,” he says.
China has the world’s most sophisticated internet censoring system, referred to elsewhere as the ‘Great Firewall’. With 650 million users, the country has the world’s most internet users, and is headquarters to some of the largest internet firms like Alibaba Group Holdings, Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings.
Lu vows China will pick and choose its friends when it comes to the internet.
“I, indeed, may choose who comes into my house. They can come if they are friends,” Lu says. “Freedom is our goal. Order is our means.”
Lu’s comments come as the Chinese Government prepares to host its second annual World Internet Conference from December 16 to December 18. Some experts say the conference is part of Beijing’s effort to control global internet governance rules.The conference will be addressed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and will be attended by prime ministers from Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan.
China is known for its heavy fisted censorship of the internet, blocking sites it believes are anti-communist or which criticize the government. These include Google search, Gmail, Facebook and anything to do with gambling and pornography.
Since Xi came to power in 2013, there has been a crackdown on anything resembling online freedom of expression. The Government has introduced laws and regulations which have secure and controllable provisions, which the majority of foreign technology firms say could eventually mandate the handover of commercial secrets.
Lu says that the rules are necessary with the growth of “national security challenges and the global threat of terrorism”.