A quiet social network makes China happy in recent crackdown

China welcomes foreign Internet sites, but says they must follow relevant regulations

Ren Xianliang, Deputy Director of China's State Internet Information Office

Ren Xianliang, Deputy Director of China's State Internet Information Office

China's recent crackdown on online rumors may have quieted the nation's social networking websites, but local authorities take that as a sign of progress and want to regulate the Internet even more.

In a rare question-and-answer session, Chinese official Ren Xianliang spoke at length with journalists on the nation's efforts to control the Internet. Few details were given, but China plans to exercise greater authority over the nation's social networking services, including Sina Weibo and WeChat.

"You brought up that Sina Weibo's activity has fallen, but this just means that our crackdown on online rumors has been effective," said Ren, who is the deputy director of China's State Internet Information Office. "The rumors have declined significantly, but this hasn't affected the normal flow of information," he added.

Ren spoke to the media two weeks after the government said it was falling behind in managing the online flow of information. China already is notorious for blocking popular websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter as a way to weed out anti-government content. Locally, domestic Internet firms must self-censor, and often delete user posts on sensitive topics.

China's Internet populace, however, is growing at a fast pace. The country now has 604 million users, according to Ren. Half those users are either on microblogging sites such as Sina Weibo or using the mobile messaging app WeChat, he added. As a result, China's social networking platforms are generating billions of posts each day.

"Our work in managing this has to catch up. We are specifically targeting social media, and we are forming the specific systems and laws to regulate it," he said without elaborating.

In recent months, China has cracked down on online rumors, claiming that the content is inaccurate or slanderous. As part of those measures, China will even jail users found guilty.

The strict measures have often put China in a negative light when it comes to online censorship. But local authorities view the matter as maintaining stability and removing harmful and illegal content from the Web.

China's intention is to not over-regulate the Internet, but to make it better, Ren said. "Our hope is to figure out how make the proper laws, and the proper regulation. It's not to regulate the Internet to death," he added. "Our intention is to not control, but to help the Internet develop better."

Authorities also want to maintain free speech for Internet users, but Ren indicated there would be limits. "I think people want to hear constructive comments, not personal attacks or a diatribe," he said.

China has often been mum on why certain sites are blocked, or how it manages its online censorship, and Ren declined to offer details. However, covering topics such as China's governing systems or matters that threaten the country's stability will require companies and websites to follow regulations, he said.

"We of course welcome Facebook-like sites to come to China, but they must follow the relevant laws," he added.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentsocial mediaregulationinternetsocial networkingInternet-based applications and servicesSina WeiboWeChat

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?