May 1, 2006  ·  Tim Wu

Today I’m scheduled to meet with Dr. Xiong Chengyu, who is one of the personal advisors to Chinese President Hu Jintao for internet & media issues. He is in town to meet with the National Committee on United States-China Relations, among other things.

Here’s what I’m curious to hear about: What Dr. Xiong thinks China’s internet policy is; or what function, exactly the internet does or should play in Chinese society.

In the West, the typical role of a communications infrastructure is spoken of, at an ideal, something that leads to more self-expression, happier people, and more involvement in the nation’s governance. Failing that, it ought at least entertain people and make the country richer.

Observers, myself and our book included, make guesses as to what China’s government sees as the function of the internet in Chinese society. Not all have been, exactly, flattering.

But I am very curious to hear what is said directly, and I’ll let you know what I learn.

  • Richard Bennett

    Why don’t you ask the good doctor how he feels about “net neutrality? I’m willing to be he’s down with heavy government regulation of all forms of network queuing and transport.

  • ACS

    As I understand it there are serious attempts by the Chinese Government to censor the world wide web from its own citizens, particularily in respect to organisations like falun gong.

    A business associate of mine was in Shanghai recently and commented that he watched a small crowd gathering near a public execution of a man accused of disseminating treacherous information to the public by the world wide web. This is apparently failry common (given China is said to execute up to 10,000 per year although the figures are a little hazy).

    I also understand this has been an issue in the Hong Kong council since the chinese re-entry in 1999.

    As a person living in south east asia these events are very disturbing. It is however heartening that China’s neighbours Korea, Thailand and Japan are not taking the internet quite as seriously. I understand about 90 percent of software in Thailand and Korea is pirated. Freedom of speech – even by illegal channels is possible because the government doesnt have the know how to stop it. I am not sure of the position in Singapore. If anyone knows please give us a clue.

  • dts

    Singapore is free in terms of speech, but it has lot of restrictions in many other areas. The most popular is chewing-gum law. You can’t find it in Singapore. Chewing is prohibited. You may be fined for crossing the road if you don’t cross it from padestrian’s crossing. Caning is part of punishment. Mandatory capital punishment for smuggling drugs.

    Still I love Singapore because of culture mixup and social security.

  • dawg

    China is a socialist country of people of color. Please be sensitive, tolerant, and respectful. Straight white male christians are the enemies of tolerance and diversity, not the Chinese, who are appropriately transgressive of Western ways of knowing. Anything less is racism and ethnocentrism, typically practiced willfully by straight white christian males.