Internet Restrictions in China Worsen

Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert D. Hormats today said internet restrictions in China appear to have worsened over the last year creating serious human rights concerns as well.

In his remarks at US-China Internet Industry Forum, Mr. Hormats said the United States believes that an open Internet leads to stronger, more prosperous societies.

“In my view, one of the great historic developments of our era is the dramatic democratization of information around the world. The internet and the world wide web are central factors in that process.”
– Mr. Hormats

Yang Jiechi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, addresses the general debate of the sixtysixth session of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Lou Rouse

He noted that internet freedom is an extension of the same vision America has had for more than 200 years that open government, open markets, and a respect for the fundamental rights of people will lead to stability, security, and prosperity.

“As participants in this open Internet, each government, company, and non-governmental organization has a role to play to ensure the Internet remains a space that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms, while at the same time preserves security, confidentiality, and tolerance.”
– Mr. Hormats

He stressed that internet freedom is increasingly part of the State Department’s day-to-day diplomacy in countries around the world.

He noted that the Department is developing action plans to advance Internet freedom, support digital activists, counter Internet repression, and systematically engage with the “netizens” who will shape the future of the Internet and the economic future in their own countries.

“As the Internet landscape becomes more and more complex, the United States is taking action to make a principled stance for openness and to broaden opportunities on the Internet.”
– Mr. Hormats

He stated that in the case of China, the United States remains concerned with the widespread censorship and surveillance on the Internet.

Mr. Hormats reported that many websites and online services are blocked, emails and communications are monitored, and certain keywords are immediately flagged for deletion.

“Getting around the restrictive “Great Firewall” on the Internet in China costs Chinese and foreign businesses both time and money.” -Mr. Hormats

He stressed that the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association are protected in a body of well-established domestic and international law, and they apply online just as they do offline.

He emphasized that online censorship also hampers the free flow of information and freedom of expression and the innovations associated with them.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.