People’s Daily: Network Expressions Should Also Be Proper and Lawful

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This People’s Daily op-ed appeared widely in Chinese media, as well as the website of the National People’s Congress. I could write a long analysis about it, but it is the usual, disingenuous claptrap anyway, so I can’t be bothered.

After the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’ Decision concerning Strengthening Network Information Protection appeared, some people displayed misunderstanding concerning this and called it into question – believing that this might impede or suppress the space for public opinion among the people.

The Internet has already become an important platform for citizens to express thoughts and participate in social activities at the present time. Although this platform is different from traditional platforms, the fact that those expressing themselves must abide by the principles of the propriety, legality and responsibility of their expressions has not changed. Expressions on network platforms may have a dual character, namely that apart from lawful expressions, there are also people that might use the network to engage in insults, slander, fraud, sex and other illegal activities.

Strengthening network management reflects “the integration of rights and duties”. On the one side, it is necessary to protect citizens’ freedom of speech and right to expression, on the other side, citizens are required to be responsible for the content of their expressions. The basic function of having real names at the back stage of the network is that it raises the costs for starting and disseminating rumours, and frighten people scheming to start and disseminate rumours. If rumours are allowed to be disseminated, it will be freedom of speech that will be harmed in the end.

There are boundaries to social life, there are also bottom lines for the network world. As everyone knows, “freedom” is relative, this is the same in the network world and in real society, absolute freedom does not exists.

Dealing with the network requires tolerance, but there should not be closed eyes. Our country implements legal standards for network “freedom”, and will effectively overcome the problem of “the jungle of freedom”, so that not only the network world will be even more healthy, civilized and ordered, at the came time, citizens’ free expression will also be guaranteed more powerfully.


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