On Monday, at a workshop held under the UN sponsored Internet Governance Forum in Athens, Greece, Chinese diplomat Yang Xiaokun set a new world record in cognitive dissonance as he explained in an exchange with BBC anchor and session moderator, Nik Gowing, that there is no internet censorship in China.
Yang Xiaokun: First of all, I have to say that today we have talked a lot about China, and think that’s rather strange because if we participate in forums like this, I think that we should spend more time reflecting on the issues that have been raised. And — perhaps we have talked a lot about China. There are lots of millions of Chinese that have no access to the Internet and our deepest hope is that everyone will have access in the future, so that they will be able to communicate and take part in these exchanges. We are here because we would like to promote openness. But we have not really raised the issue of how we could participate more fully and how we could have better access to the Internet. My second point is that I heard what various people here said, and collusion and collaboration and cooperation with China. The Cisco example was given. Everyone knows that there is a lot of tourism in China, and towards China. I hope that everyone will be visiting us soon. But I think that we need to also protect tourists in our country. And I have to say that I am a Chinese citizen and I feel that I need to be protected. For example, we are threatened by terrorism. We do need protection. So we should make sure that everybody can come to China, enjoy our beautiful country. And I heard with great interest what our Pakistani colleague said. Now, on the equipment use and the software in China, I don’t think that we should be using different standards to judge China. In China, we don’t have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that’s a different problem. And I know that some colleagues listen to the BBC in their offices from the Webcast. And I’ve heard people say that the BBC is not available in China or that it’s blocked. I’m sure I don’t know why people say this kind of thing. I work in Geneva. I am part of the Chinese mission to the U.N. And I listen to the BBC in my office.
Nik Gowing: (inaudible).
Yang Xiaokun: I still have several points to make.
Nik Gowing: Could I — may I ask you a question? How would you define, for those who are not familiar with your government’s policy and the detail of it, what is the principle on restrictions of openness in China?
Yang Xiaokun: We do not have restriction at all.
Come on! (Shouting out from audience).
Nik Gowing: All right. Do you want to answer — would you like to elaborate on that? None at all?
Yang Xiaokun: How can I elaborate on it if we don’t have any restriction?