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Google
3/12/2007

Thesis statement: Chinese government’s censorship on internet is good

Intro

Chinese government’s censorship is called the Great Firewall of China in reference to the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China was built during Qin dynasty in order to defend the invasion from north. The Great Wall of Firewall has been blocking access to foreign Web sites since 1996 which is politically or socially unacceptable, such as those advocating independence for Tibet, Taiwan, or Xinjiang; those promoting the banned Falun Gong, the group advocating democracy. It has also prosecuted political activists who posted antigovernment or prodemocracy information online.(Steven Schwankert) Some people argue the censorship on Internet is violating the freedom of expression and criticize Communist party by claiming it is controlling people’s thought. However, there are reasons that Chinese government needs to regulate the Internet and Chinese government’s censorship on Internet is justified.

Body

  1. Censorship on the Internet protects Chinese citizens.
    1. a. Censorship is necessary to organize the Internet environment. It removes the content which will negatively affect on the citizens or cause rotting the moral of Chinese citizen.
      1. Much censorship assumes that all individuals are vulnerable and need protection from offending material whether pornography or radical criticism of existing political and religious authority. Individuals can not be trusted to decide what they wish to see and read or to freely form their own opinions. “ (Marx)
      2. China’s President Hu Jintao said, "We should spread more information that is in good taste, and promote online products that can represent the grand Chinese culture," and he advocated for "healthy online culture through better regulation” according to reports on the English-language Web site of People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper.”(Steven Schwankert) the China Internet Network Information Center released its annual report on China's Internet users, estimating the current number of Netizens in the country--defined as individuals aged 6 or older who spend on average at least one hour per week online--at 137 million, roughly 10 percent of China's total population.” (Steven Schwankert)
    2. Chinese culture will be influenced by western culture strongly if Internet is not regulated. Law and policy of the nation is created while reflecting the circumstance of the nation. It is the way to reduce the impact of western culture influencing Chinese culture, so Chinese culture will not been taken over by the western culture. Internet has power to destroy the Chinese value and customs.
      1. “The relationship between individuals and communities constitutes the key difference between Asian and Western cultural "values." An official statement of the Singapore government, Shared Values (1991), stated that "[a]n emphasis on the community has been a key survival value for Singapore." Human rights and the rule of law, according to the "Asian view," are individualistic by nature and hence destructive of Asia's social mechanism. Increasing rates of violent crime, family breakdown, homelessness, and drug abuse are cited as evidence that Western individualism (particularly the American variety) has failed.” (Xiaorong)
  2. Chinese government can maintain order and stabilize the nation.
    1. China can continue economic growth if Chinese government maintain its order. Unless enough resources are available for all the citizens, human rights are meaningless because people can not enjoy exercising the human basic right if there are no resources such as food and money available. Achieving the nation goal, becoming materially rich, is more valued than individual goal. Chinese government is temporality limiting the human rights in order to achieve the economic success, so people eventually will be able to exercise the human rights.
      1. Xiaorong Li, professor of Mary land University says “Asian societies rank social and economic rights and "the right to economic development" over individuals' political and civil rights.
      2. The Chinese White Paper (1991) stated that "[t]o eat their fill and dress warmly were the fundamental demands of the Chinese people who had long suffered cold and hunger." Political and civil rights, on this view, do not make sense to poor and illiterate multitudes; such rights are not meaningful under destitute and unstable conditions. The right of workers to form independent unions, for example, is not as urgent as stability and efficient production. Implicit here is the promise that once people's basic needs are met -- once they are adequately fed, clothed, and educated -- and the social order is stable, the luxury of civil and political rights will be extended to them. In the meantime, economic development will be achieved more efficiently if the leaders are authorized to restrict individuals' political and civil rights for the sake of political stability.”
    2. It is more efficient and effective to develop the nation that one strong central government controls all the resource and utilizes it than democratic government governs the nation. Chinese population is 1.6 billion which is 8 times as large as American population. In such nation, a democratic form of governments leads to divide the nation rather than uniting it. Chinese citizens agree the legitimacy of communist party in the power as long as communist party guarantees prosperity in the future. The group which criticizes the government is thereat which turn the nation into disaster and leads to fail the economic development. Moreover, the information about sensitive issue such as Tibet and Taiwan’s independence will divide the nation. It is the barrier to unite the nation and to achieve the economic development, so freedom of expression is limited and censorship of internet is one of the ways to control.
      1. Orvile Schell, Journalism Dean, University of California, Berkeley says “Chinese government is trying to maintain social stability in China. And they see an open media greater as being a real threat to their ability to keep economic progress going.”
      2. Liu Zherong, Deputy Director of the CCP State Council Information Office Internet Control Bureau, quoted "We have never sought to control the Internet. The measures that have been taken are all based on regulating the Internet to create a healthy order… so I cannot agree with the word 'control.'"
    3. Freedom of speech is limited in the democratic country when the nation faces threat.
      1. Communist Threat,
      2. Civil right movement,
      3. Patriot act after September 11,
  3. Chinese citizens are exercising the freedom of speech with restriction.
    1. The perception of the freedom of speech is different depend on the cultural background in which individual has. Culture is not absolute, but it is relative, so the definition of the freedom of speech is not same among individuals. The fundamental idea of the society in China differs from the idea of the society in Western countries. It is the tradition of Chinese to value more about the group goals than the individual goals. Confucianism is the central ideology of Chinese society over centuries and t emphasized hierarchy, obedience and control. Exercising the individual right is limited when it conflict with group goal. Freedom of expression is admitted if it does not conflict with group goal. In contrast, Americans values more on individual goal than group goal. Exercising individual right is essential in order to achieve individual goal, so American put more emphasis on the freedom of speech.
      1. Minxin Pei, Senior Associate of Carnegie Endowment, admits “There is some discomfort about how much control the government should have over the type of information people should have at an individual level. There's a lot more distrust in the West. There is a higher degree of tolerance of government control of information in China. “
      2. “Human rights emerge in the context of particular social, economic, cultural and political conditions. The circumstances that prompted the institutionalization of human rights in the West do not exist in Asia. China's 1991 White Paper stated that "[o]wing to tremendous differences in historical background, social system, cultural tradition and economic development, countries differ in their understanding and practice of human rights."” “Human rights are internal affairs, not to be interfered with by foreign states or multinational agencies. In its 1991 White Paper, China stated that "the issue of human rights falls by and large within the sovereignty of each state." The West's attempt to apply universal standards of human rights to developing countries is disguised cultural imperialism and an attempt to obstruct their development.” (Xiaorong)
    2. Internet empowers people and gradually improves the living condition in China. With the Internet, Chinese people have gained the ways to obtain information, to express the opinions, and to share the information. Comparing to the time when there were no Internet and the only sources of information were the Medias such as newspapers and TV which were completely controlled by the government, they have more opportunities to know the truth. With the presence of the Internet, it is impossible for government to hide all the information from the public. They can request their government to solve the problems such as pollution and human rights and to enhance the condition. Chinese government states clearly that everyone has the freedom of expression in the constitution, so Chinese citizens can justify its act based on the constitution if it does not conflict with public interest.
      1. "...Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print [...] or through any other media of his choice." Article 19 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Signed by China: October 1998(Unknown)
      2. “The Internet has not led to a direct challenge to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party, but it has led to direct challenges to specific public policies of the Chinese government. And I'd cite two examples. The Chinese health care system is a scandal. Two-thirds of the populations do not have any form of insurance. And that discussion is now very hot on the Chinese Web sites, and that discussion has also forced the Chinese government to acknowledge its failure in that crucial area. Another example is mining accidents. Thousands of miners in China die every year. And now, each time there's a big mining accident, the Internet would spread the news very quickly so the government cannot hide the news. And that mobilizes public opinion against the government. And now the government is shutting down very dangerous small mines, so it is more accountable government even though it is not democracy. We have some signs of progress.” (Minxin Pei)
      3. “Google has introduced a revolutionary technology of translating English into Chinese instantly with about 75 to 85 percent of accuracy. And that opens a huge new world of information to the non-English-speaking Chinese public. “ (Minxin Pei)
      4. “One recent independent survey of Chinese Internet users found that “48% percent of Internet users believe that by going on line the Chinese will learn more about politics, and 60% of users believe the Internet will provide more opportunities for criticizing the government.””(Microsoft)
      5. “the Internet offers the best opportunity for ordinary citizens in China to communicate their own observations and opinions and to report the facts about important local events. Just in the past few years, there have been repeated examples in China of the ways in which official responses to domestic events have been affected by the availability of information and opinions communicated over the Internet. Most prominent have been reports and commentary about the handling of health issues, such as SARS, Avian flu, HIV/AIDS and water contamination. They demonstrate the important role played by the kinds of services that companies like Microsoft provide over the Internet.” (Microsoft)

Conclusion

Freedom of speech is not absolute universal right in which individual can exercise every time. The limit that individual can exercise the right depend on the circumstance and culture of the nation. China is in the process of economic development and transforming its government to open government. In this special case, limiting the freedom of speech is necessary to maintain order and achieve the economic success. When China succeed its transformation and become materially prosper, it is the time for Chinese citizen to enjoy excising more human right including the freedom of speech.

Bibliography

  • Jim Lehrer, “Chinese Internet Censorship” ,PBS. 13 March 2007,
  • Gary T. Marx, “Censorship and Secrecy, Social and Legal Perspectives”. Sociology Department, M.I.T. 13 March 2007,< http://web.mit.edu/gtmarx/www/cenandsec.html>
  • Xiaorong Li, “"Asian Values" and the Universality of Human Rights” Institute for Philosophy and Public policy, Mary land University, 13 March 2007, < http://www.puaf.umd.edu/IPPP/li.htm>
  • Jack Krumholtz, “The Internet in China: A Tool for Freedom or Suppression?” Microsoft Corporation, 13 March 2007,
  • Liu Xiaobo ,“Communist Internet Censorship an "Internationally Common Practice"?”, Epoch Times, 13 March 2007,< http://en.epochtimes.com/news/6-2-20/38388.html>
  • Unkown, “People’s Republic of China Controls tighten as Internet activism grows” ,Amnesty International, 13 March 2007,
  • Steven Schwankert , “China's Hu Calls for More Internet Regulation”, IDG News Service, 13 March 2007,

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