back to article Culture CLASH: Wuzhen Declaration spurned at World Internet Conference in China

As you might expect, China's first global internet conference was a particularly Chinese affair. There were few sessions, each dominated by pre-selected authority figures, lots of positive declarations, almost no criticism and little audience participation. In effect, the polar opposite of a normal internet conference. …

  1. silent_count

    The yanks are doing their best to record every lolcat picture you look at, and cross index everyone you mention it to. The brains trust at the EU are doing their best to censor search results because God forbid that anyone find out that you did, in fact, look at a lolcat picture a few years back.

    So I wonder quite how sanctimonious we in the west look to the Chinese when we preach about internet freedom.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      > So I wonder quite how sanctimonious we in the west look to the Chinese when we preach about internet freedom.

      Good point, within reason, but that's like saying that we have no right to criticize North Korea's prison labor camps because we have prisons of our own. Shades of gray.

      I left the UK a while ago, but tell me - are people being dragged away by the police in the middle of the night for calling David Cameron a hypocritical, arrogant two-faced tosser?

      No?

      Then let's continue to criticize China, and recognize that the West, though by no means beyond reproach, is still a goddamn beacon of freedom and liberty compared to there.

      And just to earn my share of downvotes for the day I'll throw this thought in - if there's a threat to free speech in the West, it comes not from governments, but from the new authoritarian Left - "you can say what you want as long as it meets our standards of right-on Groupthink. And you can only have a valid opinion on /anything/ if you're not a heterosexual white male."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @David 132

        OK until "it comes not from governments, but from the new authoritarian Left - "you can say what you want as long as it meets our standards of right-on Groupthink. And you can only have a valid opinion on /anything/ if you're not a heterosexual white male."

  2. Notas Badoff

    Inside first, insiders first

    "And they have done so despite the Great Firewall of China. You could even argue thanks to it."

    Why would China wish to foster non-domestic companies? If it is difficult to conduct business within the country *because* it is cross-border business in the *wrong* direction, well, that serves "build the country".

    There are multiple styles of protectionism, and saying you Western companies just don't understand the domestic market is both somewhat true and a definite excuse for obfuscation and obstruction.

    Everybody loves a winner. They are fascinated by them, hence the gushing press. And I don't say that the winners are pre-ordained, except in one respect. They will be native Mandarin speakers exclusively.

  3. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    What they must realize

    What they must realize, is the internet routes around damage; and censorship is regarded by some users as damage. The GFW is ineffective to anyone who wishes to get around it; if a Wuzhen Declaration encouraging allowing countries to implement widespread censorship passes then users will simply ignore it and work around it.

    Of course, a clause trying to reduce the spread of pornography is pretty useless, there's so much pornography already online I don't know if there's anywhere further for it to spread (edit: El Reg, you're welcome to accept this as a challenge and spice things up with a Page 3 girl if you wish. Just kidding, that may not go over too well 8-) . Re-edit: Of course this is a problem with this kind of declaration; I'm sure the Page 3 girl is just considered racy in UK; in France or wherever it may not even be that racy. In US, we're prudes and I think it'd be unheard of to have a photo topless woman outside of the likes of Playboy. And the kind of people who would want to significantly restrict online pornography to begin with, instead of realize adults are adults, probably would want to go for the lowest common denominator.. worst case you'd end up not being able to show exposed ankles. ) And, again, any attempt to restrict products and services that people want to get to, they will get to it anyway.

    1. fearnothing

      Re: What they must realize

      The current objections with page 3 girls have less to do with the racy nature and more to do with the exploitative sexist attitude they promote. If you want to give an example of the UK being prudish, look at the recent announcement about supermarkets hiding magazines referring to sex on their covers.

      The internet routes around damage [censorship] now because it can, but if everywhere censors, then there won't be an alternative route to choose. It's a moderately unlikely scenario in my opinion but not so far that we don't need to think about it and work to ensure it doesn't happen.

  4. Jes.e

    There's an unstated problem here..

    I feel the Wurzin declaration terms contradict each other.

    For example "freedom of the internet", "respecting countries cultural mores", "security for electronic commerce", and oh yes.. protecting the kiddies and getting rid of porn.

    (curious how the porn immediately followed the mention of children in there.)

    If you have true freedom, then, you have porn.

    You then also, have political discussion about possibly unpleasant topics to one's cultural region..

    Read "Cloak of Anarchy" for a much better discussion of the problem.

  5. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Different Same

    At the highest level there's no difference; China and the west each do their best to keep their countries the best they can. The difference is in their approach to it. The west has long recognised that laughing at leaders, mocking religions, allowing porn, permitting dissent, and having all that we generally call 'freedom' doesn't necessarily damage as much as some may believe it will.

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