A little bit of official Chinese doublespeak this week with the issuing of a new white paper on the country's internet policy.
According to the paper, issued by the government's Information Office, 'Chinese citizens fully enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet.' However, the paper added that the government would still control what its people see in the interests of maintaining 'national unity' and 'national honour and interests'.
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James Fallows notes wryly the headline and kicker on the China Daily newspaper on his blog: 'Freedom of Expression on Internet Guaranteed – White Paper Balances Free Flow of Info with Security.' He also says that Chinese officials use the rather unpersuasive argument that China-style censorship is no different really from European nations censoring neo-Nazi propaganda. Presumably the BBC had missed the right-wing hate speech on the front page of its website when I was last in Beijing (at least I assume that's why I couldn't access the site from my hotel).
Interestingly, the white paper also includes the goal of increasing the internet penetration rate to 45 percent from 29 percent last year. It's good to know the government is doing its bit to spread internet freedom that little bit further…