Will China’s Censorship Spread?

from The Wall Street Journal,

Since last year, China has been promoting its notion of ‘Internet sovereignty’ for global Internet governance.

[caption id="attachment_88381" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Police officers face foreign journalists covering human-rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang's trial in Beijing "][/caption]

On Monday, prominent human-rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang went on trial for writing seven social-media posts criticizing Chinese policies and government officials. Supportive online messages posted during the trial were swiftly taken down. At the same time, China’s Internet began to fill with images of Wuzhen, a scenic southern river town that is playing host to China’s biggest annual Internet conference this week. And on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in the presence of leaders of several Central Asian countries and a who’s who list from China’s biggest and richest online companies, laid out his vision for an Internet where governments like Beijing’s could regulate the Web how they see fit. The two events in the same week evoke the words of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who famously said China’s Internet censorship would fail because it was trying to “nail Jell-O to the wall.” Now the Chinese public is experiencing increasingly tight online censorship, even as its digital industry booms and some Chinese Internet companies become global giants. China, it appears, has figured out how to nail Jell-O to the wall—and get rich doing it. Wuzhen represents its effort to sell that approach abroad. The danger now, some human rights advocates argue, is that China is trying to get foreign firms to comply with its censorship rules while exporting this filtered and policed Internet model to other countries.

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