Commentary: The Internet belongs to all, not just the US

08:56, February 17, 2011      

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On February 15, the US government announced that it would increase its research into Internet penetration tools, in order to exert pressure on "authoritarian states," including China. Driven by the United States, ideological attacks reminiscent of the Cold War have appeared on the Internet.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered an impassioned speech, saying that the US aims to promote "absolute freedom" of the Internet information flow and that whoever prevents it is "antidemocratic."

The US has forgotten that in 1992 when China first applied for access to the Internet, it was rejected for fear that socialist China would gain information about the West. The selfishness of the US has not changed in adopting this strategy.

The US attempts to control the Internet's direction, constantly committed to transforming the rapid development of Internet technology into a shaping tool for other countries.

It is indisputable that the freedom of information flow in China and other non-Western countries is not as good as that in the US and Europe, but this has changed bit by bit over the past 30 years. China is no longer a country shrouded by the information iron curtain. Increasing freedom to information is a goal for Chinese society.

However, China is clearly unable to remove all the "firewalls" at the moment. All countries consider national security above all.

The US Patriot Act allows the government to monitor citizens' online communications, including their browsing history. The grandstanding of the US about information freedom is fundamentally insincere.

The unfriendliness of the US government in the information field will force China to adopt temporary response measures, which may cause each side to develop the Internet separately. For example, Americans are using Twitter, while Chinese favor micro-blogs. The distance between the two sides is gradually being widened.

At least in the beginning, the US will remain superior but this is not immutable. China is under rapid development, and its number of Internet users has greatly exceeded the entire population of the United States.

The spread of online information in Chinese is also expanding. Although English-language information is still dominant in the world, it cannot dominate the lives of Chinese people today and may not always be able to dominate the future of mankind.

In the future, with the increasing tolerance of information for Chinese society and gradual introspection of the West, the integration of the two sides may begin anew, based on mutual respect and equal access.

Some scholars have said that, when the United States tries to promote soft power, it is when hard power alone has failed. In fact, the power of the Internet is not as large as Hillary Clinton images. It was just the last straw for the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.

China may not achieve political stability only by monitoring the Internet, and the US cannot play tricks on the Internet and expect to turn China into another Middle East.

Source: Global Times
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