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UPDATED: June 9, 2010
Full Text: The Internet in China


III. Guaranteeing Citizens' Freedom of Speech on the Internet

The Internet is given full scope in the news communication field of China. The Chinese government encourages and supports the development of Internet news communication undertakings, provides the public with a full range of news, and at the same time guarantees the citizens' freedom of speech on the Internet as well as the public's right to know, to participate, to be heard and to oversee in accordance with the law.

The Internet has become an important channel for people to obtain news. Ever since its introduction to China, the Chinese people have been making full use of the Internet to disseminate news. The news agencies, newspaper offices, radio and television stations in China have used their resources and brand advantages to carry out Internet news communication so as to meet the people's needs for news, and a number of websites providing comprehensive news services, such as People's Daily Online, Xinhuanet, CCTV.com and CNR.cn, have been set up, which has not only extended the reach of authoritative news, but also explored new space for the traditional media's own development. A number of well-known commercial websites have also become major channels for people to obtain news. According to statistics, over 80% of China's netizens mainly rely on the Internet for news. The development of the Internet media has not only enhanced the time-effectiveness and validity of news communication, but also played a unique role in the reporting of important news events, fully satisfying people's need for information. It has become a common practice for the online media to make live broadcasts of the National Congresses of the CPC, NPC, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), etc.

Chinese citizens fully enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China confers on Chinese citizens the right to free speech. With their right to freedom of speech on the Internet protected by the law, they can voice their opinions in various ways on the Internet. Vigorous online ideas exchange is a major characteristic of China's Internet development, and the huge quantity of BBS posts and blog articles is far beyond that of any other country. China's websites attach great importance to providing netizens with opinion expression services, with over 80% of them providing electronic bulletin service. In China, there are over a million BBSs and some 220 million bloggers. According to a sample survey, each day people post over three million messages via BBS, news commentary sites, blogs, etc., and over 66% of Chinese netizens frequently place postings to discuss various topics, and to fully express their opinions and represent their interests. The new applications and services on the Internet have provided a broader scope for people to express their opinions. The newly-emerging online services, including blog, microblog, video-sharing and social networking websites, are developing rapidly in China, and provide greater convenience for Chinese citizens to communicate online. Actively participating in online information communication and content creation, netizens have greatly enriched Internet information and content.

The Internet's role in supervision is given full play. The Chinese government has actively created conditions for the people to supervise the government, and attaches great importance to the Internet's role in supervision. Governments at all levels are required to investigate and resolve in a timely manner all problems reported to the government by the public via the Internet, and to inform the public of the results. On the great majority of government websites, relevant email addresses and telephone numbers are made public, so that the governments can be informed of problems in their work. Over the past few years a great number of the problems reported through the Internet have been resolved. In order to facilitate the public's reporting of corrupt and degenerate officials and suchlike, the central discipline inspection and supervision authorities, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and other relevant bodies have set up informant websites. The informant website of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision, and the website of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention are playing an important role in preventing and punishing corruption and degeneration among officials. According to a sample survey, over 60 percent of netizens have a positive opinion of the fact that the government gives wide scope to the Internet's role in supervision, and consider it a manifestation of China's socialist democracy and progress.

The authorities attach great importance to social conditions and public opinion as reflected on the Internet, which has become a bridge facilitating direct communication between the government and the public. The Internet has become a new channel for the Chinese government to get to know the people's situation and amass the public's wisdom, and consequently exercise governance for the people and improve its work. The opinions expressed by the public online are receiving unprecedented attention. The leaders of China frequently log onto the Internet to get to know the public's wishes, and sometimes have direct online communication with netizens to discuss state affairs and answer their questions. It has become a common practice for governments at all levels to consult the public via the Internet before formulating policies of particular importance. The public's opinions have been sought through the Internet during the annual sessions of the NPC and CPPCC. For each of the past three years, as many as several million items of advice and suggestions have been received through the Internet, providing valuable reference for the government to improve its work.

The Internet provides unprecedented convenience and a direct channel for the people to exercise their right to know, to participate, to be heard and to oversee, and is playing an increasingly important role in helping the government get to know the people's wishes, meet their needs and safeguard their interests. The Chinese government is determined to unswervingly safeguard the freedom of speech on the Internet enjoyed by Chinese citizens in accordance with the law.

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