Zuckerberg should not compromise principle of free speech

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2016, 4:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2016, 4:53pm

On March 19, in Beijing, Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan met the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg in Beijing. In the meeting, Zuckerberg told Liu he was willing to cooperate with China to have Facebook available on the mainland.

However, internet censorship is so tight north of the border than many websites such as Facebook cannot be accessed freely.

The Great Firewall of China is a part of the suppression of freedom of speech by the Communist Party.

It does not want websites from the West which allow people to freely express their opinions. Now, some Silicon Valley tycoons, including Zuckerberg, want to provide a service to Chinese netizens. But I think the only way their websites will be unblocked is if they are willing to make compromises on the issue of free speech.

If tycoons like Zuckerberg submit to the regime’s requirements regarding censorship, mainland citizens will not really benefit from the introduction of Facebook.

The Beijing regime has held numerous international internet conferences to whitewash the serious blockades as necessary regulations, showing that it is not sincere about giving Chinese netizens free speech online.

If Zuckerberg cooperates, mainlanders will have a longer wait for the free internet.

Zuckerberg has said in the past he will not surrender freedom of speech when dealing with totalitarian regimes. I hope he sticks to that pledge. He and other tycoons have a responsibility to defend the rights of all netizens.

As I have said in previous letters to these columns, freedom of speech in society, including the internet, should be seen as a natural right.

While I recognise Zuckerberg wishes to make profits, he must also defend the principles of justice and free speech.

Henry Wong, Kennedy Town