Thursday, January 14, 2016

Baidu Encyclopedia Article on "Internet Sovereignty" Disappears

On December 16, 2015, the state sponsored China Daily published an article entitled “Internet Sovereignty Should be Respected: President.”  Some excerpts:
President Xi Jinping said the international community should respect the "Internet sovereignty" of individual countries and build a "multilateral, democratic, and transparent" global Internet governance system.

"Based on the principle of mutual respect and mutual trust, the international community should increase dialogues and cooperation, reform global Internet governance, and make the cyberspace a peaceful, secure and open place," Xi said at the opening ceremony of the 2nd World Internet Conference, in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province on Wednesday, Dec 16.

Xi went on to say that the global Internet governance reform needs to be based on a principle of Internet sovereignty. "We should respect the rights of individual countries in choosing their own Internet development path, Internet governance, and Internet policies and take part in cyberspace governance on an equal basis and not push cyberspace hegemony or interfere in other countries' internal affairs or engage in or support cyberspace activities that jeopardize the national security of others."

Officials said China has been the victim of a large number of cyber attacks from Internet servers based in some developed countries, such as the United States.
. . . .
Regarding the overall management of cyberspace, Xi said there needs to be a proper balance in "freedom" and "order", and that "freedom is the end of order and order the guarantee of freedom".

"We should respect the rights of netizens in exchanging ideas and expressions, but should also build good cyberspace order that accords with the law to benefit and protect the rights of the netizens."
On the following day an Internet user updated Baidu’s Encyclopedia (“Baike” 百科, a wikipedia-like product) to include an article on “Internet Sovereignty” (互联网主权) - a variation of the exact phrasing used by Xi Jinping at Wuzhen - "网路主权," which is more directly translated as "network sovereignty."

Practically all of the article’s content came from state run media and a “white paper” produced by the PRC government. There was, however, one exception: a section entitled “Leaping Over the Wall is a Kind of International Trafficking Crime” (翻“墙”是一种国际偷渡的犯罪行为). That section read:
If you have sovereignty, then you have a balkanized net. If you have a balkanized net, you have the world. The borders of the balkanized net must be defined by "walls." The 1970's "Declaration of Principles of International Law" set forth the content of the principles of sovereignty, the heart of which is the equality of each country's sovereignty. Seeing as everyone is equal, after China advocates for its own rights on the Internet, then the United States of America shall also advocate for its rights, France and Germany, Japan and North Korea, all should have this opportunity. How does everyone divide up territory while maintaining peaceful coexistence? We know that territory can be demarcated using a Great Wall. The concept of the balkanized net discussed above, the balkanized net, may also be demarcated by the great "firewall." With a wall, the Internet has international borders, and everyone is like you don't bother me and I won't bother you, equal. Walls symbolize boundaries, and illegal behavior will be subject to international sanctions. In the future, Internet trafficking will also be attacked.

Anyone who has read this far should ask, if walls are built on the Internet, won't this mean that the country adopts a closed door policy, and the Celestial Empire will create an intranet?

This way of thinking is incorrect. It only tells half the story. The former half of that statement is wrong, the latter half of that statement is reasonable. The Internet will always be free, and information will will always be free, and creating a Internet nation is not for adopting a closed door policy, but rather for achieving information order.

People also ask, if we are not adopting a closed door policy, then why can't be accessed?

Google's inaccessibility is the result of their alienating themselves from China's Internet users. In an age when information spread unchecked and there was no sovereignty, they paid a grievous price. Now, when this kind of Internet Sovereignty is built up, and after  international Internet order is upheld, then you can access it.

How to access it? Very simple. As a Netizen, you must carry a residential identification card, and in accord with processes for citizens going abroad, fully prepare all kinds of evidentiary materials, and first go to the "Online Embassy" and file an application, which the Online Embassy will submit to Google, and after you have received Google's approval you will be able to sign on. Ha Ha. Of course, you can't have any criminal record, and if your file shows any record of hacking, the likelihood that you will be refused will be relatively high.

These screenshots show that the article was deleted within hours (even though Baidu continued to show it in search results for some time).

An article entitled "Network Sovereignty" (网路主权) remained available. That article did not contain the aforementioned language, and de-emphasized the idea that the concept was exclusively an invention of leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.

On December 17, 2015, the state sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “No Internet Hegemony: Xi.” Some excerpts:
Huang Rihan, a research fellow with the Maritime Silk Road Institute at Huaqiao University in Fujian Province, told the Global Times that it is necessary for China to propose a new model of Internet governance as it grows to become a "strong Internet power" and it is also part of its responsibilities as a major world power to offer new ideas in governance.

There are now two major Internet governance models, one represented by the US, which advocates so-called open and free principles, the other represented by China, which insists on cyber sovereignty, Huang said.

"China's experience is based on regulation of cyberspace activities within the rule of law," said Huang. "China insists that the security and freedom of cyberspace can only be guaranteed when order is maintained."

"We should respect Internet users' rights to exchange their ideas and express their minds, and we should also build good order in cyberspace in accordance with the law as it will help protect the legitimate rights and interests of all Internet users," Xi said Wednesday, stressing that cyberspace is not "a place beyond the rule of law."

Shen Yi, an associate professor of international studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said that cyberspace does not need hegemony or a hegemonic country, but it is in need of a system of order or regulation, which will further support Internet development and bring benefits.

"Whether some Westerners recognize it or not, China has been exploring its own path of Internet governance, which meets the demands of the development of its Internet in a market economy," Shen told the Global Times.

Such a path has enabled domestic Internet companies to grow strong, and in the meantime, international Internet giants are also eager to get a share of the Chinese market, he noted.

The more the US emphasizes its concept of "Internet freedom" and tries to bind its national interest with the Internet, said Shen, the more other countries may be forced to adopt regulations on the Internet to protect their own interests. "The Internet should become a real public sphere instead of a tool of the US," he said.