Reg­u­lat­ing in­ter­net a com­mon chal­lenge for coun­tries

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL - By Li Qingqing

The Cy­berspace Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China (CAC) said in a state­ment on Mon­day that it has shut down more than 9,800 self-me­dia ac­counts which con­tained sen­sa­tional, vul­gar or harm­ful con­tent, slan­dered he­roes or de­famed na­tional im­age. The CAC also warned WeChat and Weibo, two of China’s so­cial me­dia gi­ants, against fail­ing to pre­vent chaos on their plat­forms.

Cy­berspace is not a space be­yond the rule of law. The univer­sal stan­dard of reg­u­lat­ing the in­ter­net is to pre­vent so­cial tur­moil and divi­sion, and to curb the spread of ex­trem­ist thoughts. Although China has made cer­tain achieve­ments in reg­u­lat­ing cy­berspace, it is also fac­ing unique se­vere chal­lenges like any other coun­try.

Strictly speak­ing, we are all begin­ners in reg­u­lat­ing the in­ter­net. But China’s reg­u­la­tion is based on its na­tional con­di­tions and laws, and its laws are be­ing fur­ther im­proved to bet­ter reg­u­late cy­berspace.

The US and other Western coun­tries are also tak­ing mea­sures to deal with chal­lenges in cy­berspace gov­er­nance. For ex­am­ple, US so­cial me­dia gi­ant Face­book an­nounced a part­ner­ship with France to po­lice on­line hate speech on Mon­day. This shows that Western govern­ments are also ad­just­ing in­ter­net reg­u­la­tion ac­cord­ing to their in­di­vid­ual so­cial prac­tices. Such acts are im­por­tant, and China wishes to ex­change knowl­edge with the West in reg­u­lat­ing cy­berspace.

But the prob­lem is: Western me­dia al­ways use China’s in­ter­net reg­u­la­tion to ac­cuse Bei­jing of sup­press­ing free­dom of speech, as if they were the judges.

This is not only un­pro­duc­tive, but will re­sult in harm to their own cy­berspace se­cu­rity as they lack co­op­er­a­tion with China in in­ter­net reg­u­la­tion. It’s hard to pre­dict the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of so­cial me­dia, but con­di­tions don’t seem op­ti­mistic for the West.

Free­dom House, a US-based NGO that con­ducts re­search on po­lit­i­cal free­dom and hu­man rights, re­leased a re­port named “Free­dom on the Net 2018: The Rise of Dig­i­tal Au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism”. “In the past year, at least 17 coun­tries ap­proved or pro­posed laws that would re­strict on­line me­dia in the name of fight­ing ‘fake news’ and on­line ma­nip­u­la­tion,” the re­port said.

Though con­tain­ing a cer­tain ide­o­log­i­cal tone, the re­port shows that stricter in­ter­net reg­u­la­tion will be an ir­re­sistible trend world­wide. Some peo­ple claim that the power of the in­ter­net can only be curbed by so­ci­ety it­self with­out reg­u­la­tion by the state. Such opin­ion is ide­al­is­tic. In­ter­net with­out reg­u­la­tion is like a law­less coun­try, des­tined to be filled with vi­o­lence, hate and chaos. No coun­try in the world can re­al­ize ab­so­lute free­dom of speech in cy­berspace.

Western coun­tries have no right to teach China how to main­tain so­cial sta­bil­ity. Since no coun­try will al­low crimes and ter­ror­ism on the in­ter­net, why does the West al­ways im­pose dou­ble stan­dards on China? China is reg­u­lat­ing the in­ter­net at its own pace, and we won’t refuse to com­mu­ni­cate with the West as we all face chal­lenges. Free­dom of speech is highly val­ued in China, and it doesn’t con­tra­dict with China’s cur­rent reg­u­la­tion.

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