Govt ad­viser crit­i­cises web cen­sor­ship

New Straits Times - - World -

A se­nior Chi­nese gov­ern­ment ad­viser has warned that the coun­try’s in­ter­net cen­sor­ship is ham­per­ing sci­en­tific re­search and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, in a rare pub­lic crit­i­cism of a sen­si­tive gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

Slow ac­cess to over­seas aca­demic web­sites have forced do­mes­tic re­searchers to buy soft­ware to cir­cum­vent China’s site­block­ing fire­wall, or even travel over­seas to con­duct re­search, Luo Fuhe, vice-chair­man of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Political Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence, said here.

Luo’s re­marks, re­ported by state me­dia yes­ter­day, came as na­tional lead­ers and thou­sands of rep­re­sen­ta­tives are gath­er­ing here for the na­tional leg­is­la­ture’s an­nual ses­sion.

Luo’s con­fer­ence, the CPPCC, is the of­fi­cial ad­vi­sory body to the leg­is­la­ture, the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress.

China’s so­phis­ti­cated in­ter­net cen­sor­ship tools block nu­mer­ous for­eign so­cial me­dia and news web­sites, while dis­cus­sion of political top­ics and other sen­si­tive is­sues, such as Ti­bet and Tai­wan, are rou­tinely cen­sored.

How­ever, the same tools also ham­per ac­cess to some re­search and uni­ver­sity web­sites, whether in­ad­ver­tently or by de­sign.

In re­sponse, many Chi­nese em­ploy vir­tual private net­works to scale the cen­sors’ blocks, known some­times as “the Great Fire­wall of China”.

The com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment re­cently re­newed a push for a greater role in global in­ter­net gov­er­nance based on re­stric­tions and reg­u­la­tions rather than the prin­ci­ple of free-flow of in­for­ma­tion found in demo­cratic so­ci­eties.

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