China’s Internet regulator has vowed to make the views of the ruling Communist Party the “strongest voice in cyberspace”, state media said Thursday.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) made the promise in a statement following talks on “the governance of cyberspace with Chinese socialist characteristics”, the official Xinhua news agency said.
China has some of the tightest Internet controls in the world, deleting online content it deems to be sensitive and blocking Western websites and the services of Internet giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google with the so-called “Great Firewall of China”.
Last year, a report by American think tank Freedom House found that the country had the most restrictive Internet policies of 65 nations studied, ranking below Iran and Syria.
Even so Beijing has sought to sell its idea of “Internet sovereignty” — the concept that individual countries should govern their own cyberspace — raising concerns from rights groups who see it as at odds with a vision of the network as an open global resource.
The CAC statement, issued Wednesday on its official website, referenced an unidentified survey that found 90.6 percent of Internet users to be “full of confidence in the healthy development” of China’s Internet.
It said it will use China’s Internet management model “to show the way for changes in global Internet governance”.
China has already tried to influence the Internet beyond its borders through events like its annual World Internet Conference, the second edition of which was held in December.
Speaking before high-profile politicians from nations criticised for their records on freedom of speech, including Pakistan and Russia, and senior executives from companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Apple, President Xi Jinping expressed China’s intention to continue ruling its web with an iron fist.
“Like in the real world, freedom and order are both necessary in cyberspace: freedom is what order is meant for, and order is the guarantee for freedom,” he said.
Nevertheless, companies such as LinkedIn have agreed to censor their content in exchange for access to the country, while Facebook and other banned companies have lined up to offer the hand of friendship to China’s top leader Xi Jinping.