Regulating internet a common challenge for countries
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.