Senior Culture Ministry Official Urges More Internet Censorship

August 17, 2005

Liu Yuzhu, head of the Ministry of Culture's Market Department, wrote an article entitled "Actively Responding to the Challenge of the Internet Era," which was published in the January edition of "Seeking Truth" [Qiu Shi], the official journal of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. Liu praised the many benefits that the Internet has brought to China, but warned of a "cultural invasion," and claimed that Web sites of foreign countries such as the United States represent a threat to China's culture, society, and political structure. He encouraged increased censorship of foreign Web sites and called on domestic Web site operators to step up their self-censorship.

Liu's sentiments echo those of Liu Binjie, a senior official at the General Administration of Press and Publication, and Liu Yunshan, director of the Party's Central Propaganda Department.

For translated excerpts of Liu Yuzhu's article, see below.


Selected translated excerpts from Liu Yuzhu's "Actively Responding to the Challenge of the Internet Era"

Cultural exchanges via the Internet will reinvigorate the potential and enthusiasm of development and innovation in different cultures. At the same time, contradictions between different cultures and different civilizations, especially the infiltration of certain dominant cultures, will threaten China's cultural security. Currently about 90% of information on the Internet is English language information, while Chinese information is only 1%. Language supremacy often implies information and cultural supremacy. In the Internet age, the impact of information supremacy and dominant cultures has resulted in the exchange of on-line culture ceasing to be an equitable exchange, and becoming a sort of one-way infiltration. Western countries, headed by the United States, have occupied an advantageous position with respect to the spread of the Internet, and they dump on China massive amounts of information of all kinds, including their political models, value systems, and lifestyles, in order to oppose and edge out socialist values. In particular, the so-called religious culture and the culture which spreads pornography and violence are stealthfully influencing the audience's sentiment and value judgments. Culture is an important factor in binding a nation together, and this kind of "cultural invasion" conducted via the Internet is extremely dangerous, as it threatens the independence and existence of the national culture, and even shakes the foundation of the nation and the state. In order to safeguard our cultural security, we must have a full understanding of, and actively prepare against, this [invasion and threat], and we must bravely take on the heavy task to inherit and carry forward the fine traditional culture of our nation.

We should step up the supervision and guidance of content, and vigorously develop the Internet content industry. After broadband technology became popular, problems with Internet content became increasingly obvious. On the one hand, we should strengthen the supervision of content currently available on the Internet. First, we should strengthen our supervision of international Internet gateways, and filter out foreign, external Web sites that provide harmful information that threatens state security, disrupts social stability, and spreads obscene content, and we should adopt diplomatic and legal measures to attack these Web sites. Second, we should strengthen supervision over telecommunications operators and Internet service providers, and request that they assume the responsibility of inspectors and supervisors. Relevant domestic websites should practice strict self-discipline, should not provide obscene and other illegal content, and regularly and timely remove harmful information posted by Internet users.