State Internet Information Office Chief Lu Wei is doing the most to whet our appetites for next week’s epic Second World Internet Conference to be held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province. At a press conference yesterday, Lu told a CNN reporter that online censorship in the country isn’t actually a thing.
Once labelled China’s “Internet czar” by The New York Times, 55-year-old Lu claimed that his crowd merely “manages” the country’s online content. Here’s what Lu had to say, according to transcripts from Xinhua:
It is a misuse of words if you say “content censorship.” But no censorship does not mean there is no management. The Chinese government learned how to manage the internet from developed Western countries, we have not learned enough yet.
Lu further asserted that the government “has the right to choose friends,” thus explaining the rejection of certain websites. “We don’t welcome those who earn China’s money, take China’s market and then slander China,” he summed up.
At the same conference, Lu also claimed that “China’s open door will never be closed, we are open to the world’s internet companies.”
Earlier this year Lu was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, based on his power of getting to decide what content is or isn’t visible to the country with the most internet users in the world. He’s also made helpful suggestions in previous times with regards to what sorts of opinions internet users themselves should be expressing — more guidelines for behaviour rather than literal legal policing, obviously.
In other news, American-funded research group Freedom House found that China’s internet freedom has decreased notably since 2012, placing the country dead last out of 65 nations on their ranking.
But never mind the naysayers — if Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is willing to look past the government’s peculiarities, so too can Chinese netizens.