The Chinese government has long-kept tight reins on both traditional and new-media in order to avoid potential subversion of its authority. Its approaches frequently involve rigorous media controls shuttering websites or publications using observation techniques and firewalls, and jailing activists, bloggers, and dissident journalists. The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s awarding of the 2010 Peace Prize to jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo, as well as Google’s fight together with the Chinese government over Internet censorship , have also raised worldwide interest to censorship issues. At the exact same time, the country’s robust economy relies on the internet for growth, and specialists say the regime’s control is being tested by the expanding dependence on Internet freedom.
Real Freedom of Speech and Media in China?
China’s constitution gives its residents freedom of speech and press, but the opacity of Chinese media rules permits authorities to crack down on news stories by asserting they uncover state secrets and jeopardize the country. The meaning of state secrets in Cina remains obscure, easing censorship of any advice that authorities deem harmful (PDF) to their own political or economic interests. CFR Senior Fellow Elizabeth C. Economy claims the Chinese government is in a state of “schizophrenia” about media policy as it “goes back and forth, examining the line, knowing they want press independence and the advice it provides, but concerned about opening the door to the kind of independence that might lead to the program downfall.”
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In May 2010, the government issued its first white-paper on the Internet that highlighted the concept of “Internet sovereignty,” needing all Internet users in China, including foreign businesses and people, to adhere to Chinese laws and ordinances. Chinese Internet businesses are now necessary to signal the “Public Pledge on Self-Regulation and Professional Ethics for China Internet Industry,” which involves even stricter rules than these in the whitepaper, based on Jason Q. Ng, an expert on Chinese media censorship and author of Clogged on Weibo.