Orwellian statement of the week

The Chinese government enters the twilight zone:

The Chinese government said Wednesday accusations by a press freedom group it was one of the worst culprits of systematic online censorship were “groundless” and that its citizens could freely access the Internet.

China was one of 13 countries singled out by Reporters Without Borders in a 24-hour online protest Wednesday against Internet censorship. The others were: Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

“We find these accusations groundless,” said an officer at the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman’s office who declined to be named.

“The Chinese enjoy free access to the Internet and they can have the information they need. Currently, the information the Chinese people get is far more than before the introduction of the Internet in this country.”

China has the world’s second-largest population of Internet users after the United States, with more than 123 million people online. Though the Communist government promotes Internet use, it has also set up an extensive surveillance and filtering system to prevent Chinese from accessing material considered obscene or politically subversive.

The government said its management of the Internet complied with international standards.

“As in other countries, the Internet is managed according to international standards, the law, and the self-management of Internet service providers,” the Foreign Ministry duty officer said.

But the Paris-based group, Reporters Sans Frontieres in French, said in its annual report that out of 61 people worldwide who have been imprisoned for posting what the countries claimed was “subversive” content, 52 were in China.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government denied that anyone has been arrested for Internet postings, despite a series of dissidents jailed in recent years for online comments criticizing corruption and calling for democratic change.

OpenNet Initiative – a non-partisan group aiming to “excavate, expose and analyse [online] filtering and surveillance practices – has the evidence to prove that China is the worst offender when it comes to web filtering.

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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