“Hillary Talks About the Problem of the Chinese Internet, China Unhappy”

The following is an original translation of a post by lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan. Ironically, the post was quickly deleted from his blog (see the delete notification he got here), but the essay has been reposted here.


On January 21 Hilary Clinton made a speech at the Newseum journalism museum in Washington about the freedom of the internet.

Clinton made reference to China’s censorship of the internet. In parts she criticised China, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry has responded.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu was asked “In her speech on internet freedom on January 21, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on China’s internet policy, accusing China of restricting internet freedom. How do you comment?”.

Ma Zhaoxu responded: “The US attacks China’s internet policy, indicating that China has been restricting internet freedom. We resolutely oppose such remarks and practices that contravene facts and undermine China-US relations.

China’s internet is open. China is a country with the most vibrant internet development. By the end of last year, China had 384 million internet users, 3.68 million websites and 180 million blogs. China’s Constitution guarantees people’s freedom of speech. It is China’s consistent policy to promote the development of internet. China has its own national conditions and cultural traditions. It supervises internet according to law, which is in parallel with the international paractice.

Hacking in whatever form and offence of others’ privacy is prohibited by law in China. As a major victim of hacking in the world, China believes that the international community should intensify the cooperaion in jointly combating internet hacking so as to safeguard internet security and protect the privacy of citizens in accordance with law.

We urge the US to respect facts and stop attacking China under the excuse of the so-called freedom of internet. We hope that the US side can work with China to earnestly implement the consensus between leaders of both countries on developing bilateral relationship in the new era by strengthening dialogue, exchanges and cooperation, respecting each other’s core interest and major concerns and properly handling differences and sensitive issues so as to ensure the healthy and stable development of China-US relationship.”

I have seen a transcript of Clinton’s speech, and she makes six references to China.

  1. When she makes references to the audience, she mentions Chinese participants. “Also, I’m told here as well are Senator Sam Brownback, Senator Ted Kaufman, Representative Loretta Sanchez, many representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, ambassadors, chargés, participants in our International Visitor Leadership Program on internet freedom from China, Colombia, Iran, and Lebanon, and Moldova.”
  2. When talking about Obama’s dialogue with university students, she also mentions China. “During his visit to China in November, for example, President Obama held a town hall meeting with an online component to highlight the importance of the internet.”
  3. When she talks about the issue of internet censorship, China is mentioned. “In the last year, we’ve seen a spike in threats to the free flow of information. China, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan have stepped up their censorship of the internet.”
  4. She mentions China again when speaking about how the internet is used to crackdown and suppress religious groups. “Some nations, however, have co-opted the internet as a tool to target and silence people of faith. Last year, for example, in Saudi Arabia, a man spent months in prison for blogging about Christianity. And a Harvard study found that the Saudi Government blocked many web pages about Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and even Islam. Countries including Vietnam and China employed similar tactics to restrict access to religious information.”
  5. She mentions China when speaking of the attack on Google. “The most recent situation involving Google has attracted a great deal of interest. And we look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make its announcement. And we also look for that investigation and its results to be transparent.
  6. When speaking of Sino-American views on the internet, she mentions China once more.

    “The internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China, and it is fabulous. There are so many people in China now online. But countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century. Now, the United States and China have different views on this issue, and we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently in the context of our positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship.”

Although Clinton had some criticisms of China, her stance wasn’t rigid.

If our internet has any problems, I think that 3 hundred million netizens have the most right to speak out on it. If a fellow countrymen spoke up about the internet, those that supervise it wouldn’t react. But as soon as these words are on the lips of an outsider, it embarrasses them.

Our spokesperson even remembered that “China’s Constitution guarantees people’s freedom of speech.” This made me feel gratified. Internet censors, don’t delete netizens’ posts lightly, or you’ll be infringing on a basic constitutional right.

“[China] supervises the internet according to law, which is in parallel with the international paractice.”

I totally support the spokesperson’s point of view. But I think we need to apply this lawful supervision not only to obscene sexual material, but also to the restrictions placed on citizens’ expression of their views. Even more so, those that misuse public office to stop netizens’ expression of their views should be supervised according to the law.

On the afternoon of the 22nd, the American Embassy in Beijing, along with the American Consulate in Shanghai and the Consulate in Guangzhou, invited netizens to discuss their views on Clinton’s address. I really would like to understand what the situation is like in America with regard to lawful supervision of the internet. It’s a shame that there isn’t time for me to have a turn to ask these of questions.

0 thoughts on ““Hillary Talks About the Problem of the Chinese Internet, China Unhappy””

  1. When I read his original post, I thought (as I think now in reading your translation) that there is obviously time for him to ask those questions — it’s called actually asking them. Mainland Chinese netizens’ frequent misunderstanding of the U.S. institution of free speech (which I’ll admit to having misunderstood before I went there as a student) is disturbing, and this is yet another indication that LXY Does Not Get It.


  2. I know this is largely unrelated, but I just had a conversation with a friend of mine this morning regarding censorship. He writes a column for Xinhua but one of his articles has been rejected lately. I won’t go into details but apparently Xinhua editors are not allowed to mention anything related to Shanghai (there’s tension between Xinhua and Shanghai authorities) or Avatar (utterly preposterous) or the “yellow” text messages or Google nowadays. It’s just so ridiculous it’s hilarious.


  3. Funny you should say that wooddoo, I’ve been thinking the same thing.
    As someone who translates I rely heavily on things that other people write in Chinese. I’ve wanted to do something on those topics but have had trouble finding anything written about them. I thought that it was a little strange that no one wanted to discuss them, but now I realise that there might be something more sinister going on…


  4. Oilin,

    Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean about mainland Chinese frequently misunderstanding the U.S.’s institution of free speech?

    I also wonder why this was deleted considering it doesn’t contain anything particularly objectionable besides Ma Zhaoxu’s pathetic statement of denial of that which is obvious to everyone.


  5. Maybe because I’m addicted to the Global Times, but I’m finding the trend in comments on the internet freedom issue really depressing. I can maybe understand feelings that Google is arrogant to try to get the government to bend the law for them, but now that the US government has commented, it’s all a government plot to tear China apart through the insidious influence of access to information. Apparently Americans stating that Chinese should have unfettered access to information has made them so mad that pretty much 100% of comments on Huanqiu’s article about the newest bin Laden tape were cheering him on; not surprising, but still a boost over the usual. And either the wumaos are very busy out there, or there are a lot of people who have apparently bought that the government is just protecting them from porn and “splittists” and doesn’t go beyond any other country’s regulation of the internet in any way. 唉… Maybe I need to go to kdnet to balance things out a little bit.

    By the way, does anyone know anything about the alleged existence of “網特,” “美分,” “網路漢奸,” etc.? All anybody ever seems to point to is NED funds going to this or that group, and an old, frequently-referenced article from Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao that I can’t even seem to find for myself.

    Does anyone actually in China have a sense of the impact of this issue there? Is it just internet nerds who know and care?


  6. Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean about mainland Chinese frequently misunderstanding the U.S.’s institution of free speech?

    For Westerners, free speech is a way of living; for chinese, it is about putting something on your table.

    What Westerenrs totally misunderstood chinese about 6.4 is that they thought chinese were fighting for freedom.

    Chinese students were fighting for the future of China. What happened in Russia and what has been going on in India let Chinese think again : What this so-called freedom would bring to China ?

    Western democracy or whatever have no chance in China unless the economy in China collapses.


  7. Wahaha: I think that’s a ridiculous oversimplification of 6.4. To my mind, the biggest problem with that whole movement was that there really was no clear idea that everyone agreed on of what they were fighting for. Some were for “freedom” or “democracy”, others for other things; in the end, their demands were too vague and too many for the government to have gone along with even if they had wanted to.

    But certainly, many Chinese in the square were fighting for Western-style freedom and democracy (as evidenced by the Goddess of Democracy statue they built, etc.)


  8. Custer,

    I explained before : if freedom had been the reason we protested, democracy wouldnt have lost its momentum so quickly after the fall of former Soviet Unions.

    To your post on the other thread :

    You can ridicule patriotism anyway you like, but vastly majority of Chinese wont allow China to be divided like what happened to Russia, that is one of the key reasons why those democracy advocates have little market in China, even among those who want multiparty system. The more you mock the patriotism “of chinese characteristics”, the less Chinese will trust you.

    CCP IS BAD, but those what you called “well respected” are even worse.

    Let me repeat again : CCP IS BAD,

    but those what you called “well respected” are even worse, for China.


  9. A friend of mine, who was a paniost now in America, he was sent to labor camp during CR.

    He was so happy that China is getting stronger, he was so happy that Chinese youth stood up against west media, but at same time he admires the system in America, he wants KMT and CCP TOGETHER rule China like democratic party and republic party.

    So go figure what he really wants.


  10. @ Wahaha: I’m going to say this one more time, and I want you to read it carefully, several times. THAT WAS A TRANSLATION OF SOMETHING A CHINESE BLOGGER WROTE. It has nothing to do with “me” ridiculing patriotism. I didn’t write it.

    If you have a problem with it, take it up with Han Song.

    (And if I was writing this blog to “make Chinese trust me”, I would be writing it in Chinese.)


  11. Custer,

    Yes, just like you claimed you translated Ai WeiWei’s blog, they represent what you think, what you believe, and what you want others to believe.

    That is also where free speech becomes a problem, as people only present part of facts to THOSE WHO KNOW LITTLE about the whole picture. That is why you cant claim that this forum is about China therefore I cant talk about India, Brazil, Russia.

    For example, Hu Jia was sentenced to jail, everyone of you connected it to “free speech”, “communism” and “authoritarian government”. But imagine an indian, constantly talking about the greatness of China political system (which would threaten the powerful people), constantly talking about that the Tibet area under India’s control belongs to China, and keeping getting money from China, how would he be treated ? If he would have been treated like Hu Jia was treated in China or even worse, how the heck does Hu Jia’s case have anything to do with communism ? Of course, all of these would lead to logic conclusion like stupid nationalism, brainwashed by CCP, etc. Well, that is what your media has successfully brainwashed westerners to believe, What a master piece of job!!!

    Well, that is the way to sell points, isnt it ? Present people with part of facts, link every bad thing to what they dont like or they hate, divert every bad thing away from what they like or they support, never the whole pictures, leading people to believe something. That, is so called brainwashing, it is expertise’ way.


  12. @ Wahaha: Yup, that’s why I translate articles from Qiu Shi, or articles from Woeser about free Tibet stuff…

    I translate things I’m interested in. Sometimes I agree with them, sometimes I don’t. I’m not sure how that presents a problem for freedom of speech….surely some information is better than none, right? People are responsible for forming their own opinions, and there’s no way for me (or anyone) to present the “whole picture” of China.

    And for the last time, this is NOT A “FORUM”, it is a BLOG. It is a blog about China. If you have a problem with that, start your own blog about the “whole picture”. I’m sure there are people somewhere who want to read your hypothetical stories about how terrible India is.


  13. @Wahaha – Sure, this blog translates the posts that the authors want, according to a POV and an opinion that the authors have. So what? Nobody said that each of the media outlets, blogs, or forums had to be impartial in itself. On the contrary, that never happens, in any country you go you will hear that this or this newspaper is more left-wing, this one is more nationalist, that one is more pro-Wall street… whatever.

    It is not about EACH media outlet representing the whole picture, it is about having enough diverse and free outlets, all independent from each other and from the government, and the total sum of them can give you a fair picture. This is what you can do in the West today, and you cannot do it in China because the internet and media are censored. What is so hard to understand about that?


  14. In case you two dont know :

    A worker in white house claimed that she admired Mao, she was bashed by both partys and media.

    Bill Gates dismissed the human right issue in China and was bashed and mocked by newspapers. (funny, you dont see that on the front page of newspapers in America.)

    What information do westerners get from your media ? the information your elite want you to believe, other than that, nothing.

    The thread “would China be able to occupy the battlefield of the Western public discourse?” Besides me, how many chinese you have met tried to change westerners’ opinion on West ? I guess no more than 3.

    What they are talking about is letting westerners hear the voice of China. Even chinese in West have near zero interest in politics, let alone change their political opinions. I guess somehow it brings up the issue of stupid nationalism.

    So get the fact straight, no chinese netizen ever think of replacing your media about west.


  15. I’m not sure how that presents a problem for freedom of speech….

    Every country that is not highly unanimous on sensitive and political issue is in chaos. Government simply cant focus on solving economic problems.

    The most important part of “highly unanimous” is the unanimous opinion of media. What if not, well Clinton’s sex scandal gives you a picture.


  16. @ Wahaha: the reason what Bill Gates said about China wasn’t on the front page in the US is that it isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, important news. Most Americans couldn’t care less what Bill Gates thinks about Chinese censorship.

    That said, I didn’t see any Western media bashing Gates for saying that.


  17. Yup (not that I need an article to tell me what the country I was born in, grew up in, and currently live in is like). Didn’t remind me of China under Mao at all, though.

    No one ever said that democracy is perfect. What’s currently happening in US politics is a perfect example of democracy’s worst flaw. Still, I wouldn’t trade the US political system for the Chinese one for, well, all the tea in China.

    And, for the billionth time, no one wants to argue with you about whether China should be communist or democratic.


  18. Custer,

    Maybe you are a very nice person, maybe you care people a lot. But there is something more important to you : your value.

    You put that above anything, including the future of YOUR country, let alone China.

    In some way, you are an extremist.

    BTW, the author of the article didnt use the word “people”, think of it.


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