China’s internet censorship
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Beijing seeks deeper international cooperation in cyberspace, while pushing its ideal of a clean and civilised online environment. Photo: Shutterstock

Beijing promotes ideal of clean, civilised internet as it seeks increased international cooperation in cyberspace

  • The ‘China Cyberspace Civilisation’ conference showcased the country’s success in censoring online information that the state deems harmful or unhealthy
  • President Xi Jinping exhorted the Communist Party, government bodies, online platforms and netizens to ensure the civilised development of the internet

Chinese authorities are looking to “deepen international cooperation” in cyberspace, while pushing for a “purified internet ecology”, as Beijing continues efforts to develop its ideal of a clean and civilised online environment.

That agenda was the focus of the government-sponsored “China Cyberspace Civilisation” conference in Beijing on Friday, a one-day event that showcased the recent success of the country’s internet regulators in monitoring and censoring online information that the state deems harmful or unhealthy.
In a letter presented at the conference, President Xi Jinping exhorted China’s Communist Party committees and government bodies, online platforms, social organisations as well as the country’s “vast group of netizens” to take part in ensuring the civilised development and use of the internet.

Jointly hosted by the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Beijing municipal government and the Central Guidance Commission on Building Spiritual Civilisation, the conference featured government officials and scholars, along with representatives from internet companies and online user groups, who discussed a range of topics that included regulation, teenage users, big data and algorithms.

The conference was staged amid a prolonged crackdown on the internet sector and the Big Tech companies behind its rapid development. China’s internet community has grown to about 1 billion users, larger than the combined population of the US, Russia, Mexico, Germany, the UK, France and Canada.


Inside a Chinese internet censorship centre

Inside a Chinese internet censorship centre

It also came months after the Communist Party and State Council released internally a set of guidelines for building a “cyberspace civilisation”. It urges all levels of government to bring ideology, culture, moral standards and online behaviour under control, according to a summary published by state-run news outlet Xinhua.

At the conference, authorities presented the nation’s top 10 achievements in creating a “cyberspace civilisation”, including guidelines issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) in September that direct internet platforms to weed out and censor “unhealthy” content, as well as a slate of new laws and regulations that further protect data in the country.
Other achievements showcased in the conference included the Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law implemented in 2018 and a state website called the “China Internet Joint Rumour Debunking Platform” set up under the CAC guidelines.

Still, Chinese authorities’ pursuit of “deeper international exchange and cooperation in cyberspace” could prove to be challenging.


Tightened regulations among key trends shaping China’s internet in 2021

Tightened regulations among key trends shaping China’s internet in 2021
US internet company Yahoo stopped all its remaining online services in mainland China earlier this month, marking its final retreat from the country, weeks after Microsoft Corp’s LinkedIn announced its exit from the world’s second-largest economy because of greater compliance requirements.
The timing of Yahoo’s shutdown of its few remaining online services in China coincided with the roll-out of the Personal Information Protection Law, one of the world’s toughest on personal data security, which has been compared to the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union.
Recently, cyberspace watchdog CAC drafted a new regulation that would punish individuals and institutions for helping internet users bypass the country’s Great Firewall and access censored information from overseas.
China has also maintained a tight grip on sources of online content. CAC has published a new “white list” of government-approved internet news providers, including hundreds of mobile apps as well as the Weibo and WeChat social media accounts directly managed by government bodies and media groups overseen by the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department.