By Erik Crouch
In an interview on BBC Newsnight on December 21, Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming received (and dodged) a few pretty tough questions about the nation’s internet censorship. (Watch the video here) Censorship has always been a touchy subject for Chinese politicians while abroad, and Liu gave his damnest to supply non-answers to anchor Gavin Esler’s questions.
Esler: Do you see [the internet] as a bit of an irritation, because again, from our side, we don’t understand what you’re worried about when you want to control how people exchange information.
Liu: I think there’s a misperception about Internet development in China. In fact, the Chinese are much open in terms of Internet. In fact we have the most numbers of users in China today.
Most of the interview goes on like this: Esler asks about censorship and access to information, and Liu responds with “but look how many people we have!”
Esler: But our correspondent couldn’t even get on Facebook when he was in China. I mean, you can’t get on Twitter. It’s not quite as you present it.
Liu: In China, every day, there are hundreds of thousands of comments made by the bloggers, and 66 percent of Chinese Internet users make comments online.
Again, a question about specific censorship is given an answer about general scale. Eventually, however, Liu does mention the issues that Esler was so eager to talk about:
Liu: It is up to the government to regulate these [internet] users, also in protection of the safety of the Internet to ensure that healthy content available and unhealthy content should be removed.
Well there you have it. The government is only there to prevent unhealthy content from spreading, like facebook, twitter, and porn, but don’t worry! Your sex dolls and counterfeit bags will be totally fine.