Yesterday I was following Joi Ito’s observations during the Internet Governance Forum through my RSS reader. He was there on a panel about openness on the internet. During the panel China was discussed as well, and at that point a Chinese UN delegation member stood up and bluntly said: “China does not restrict any access to any content”.
Because everybody knows this is complete bullsh*t, the sympathy that the crowd had for the Chinese delegation was gone right away. Why does an official say something like this? It’s not a secret that the Net is censored here. Does he really believe this, or is he just plain unaware of the issues? For me it’s difficult to understand. But likely he was just fed up with the discussion, and wanted it to end. This I can imagine, because once ‘outsiders’ start talking about the Chinese Net there are a lot of misconceptions. Even I have to defend China’s policies sometimes, because people who have never been to China have a completely wrong idea about what’s happening here (mainly because of incorrect media reports)!
Or maybe the delegate just meant that every content is available, as long as you know how to use a proxy server 🙂
Update: Asiapundit links to another post about this on the China Digital Times called “China: we don’t censor the internet”. And as he notes: “Ironically, the above report cannot be accessed in China without a proxy.” In case you are in China and want or read it, this is the link with a proxy.
Update 2: Shanghaiist has the transcript of the conversation. It seems the Chinese delegate was totally ignorant about the censorship issue. Also his reasoning was strange: because he can listen to the BBC on his PC in his Geneva office, this site cannot be blocked in China…