Hu Xijin: Censored Speech in China is Better than Free Speech in the West
Hu Xijin (胡锡进), former editor of the state-sponsored media outlet "Global Times," is no stranger to censorship. Here are some examples of his own editorials and articles being censored:
- Global Times Deletes Own Article About June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Incident
- Global Times Deletes Chinese (But Not English) Language Article About Great Firewall
Hu also has experience with self-censorship, as evidenced by the time he acknowledged he had to delete a series of Weibo posts he made contending that without those such as Liu, Ai, & Pu, China would be North Korea ("没有刘、艾、浦等，中国就是朝鲜。").
And Hu has been clear that he thinks there is such a thing as "Western" free speech, and that its not right for China:
Some people argue that it is acceptable in the Western world that people can launch verbal attacks on their government and even their presidents, so why is this not allowed in China? The argument seems ostensibly reasonable, but the same activities are usually regarded differently in two divergent political and legal systems.
See: State Media: "Western Speech Freedom Not Fit for China"
On April 23, 2022, Hu posted a Weibo with his perspective on Internet censorship following the censorship of a video entitled "Voices of April" that had been posted the day before. See: Covid-19 Series - Censorship of the "Voices of April."
Below is full translation of Hu's Weibo post.
After being locked down for a long time, Shanghai people have some grievances, and need channels to release them. People in other parts of the country are somewhat anxious, and have the same need for release. People express themselves on the Internet, and there's nothing odd about that.Original URL: https://weibo.com/1989660417/LpHknfsfj
The fact that network administrators delete posts does not mean that local governments do not take opinions seriously. On the contrary, expressing opinions on China's Internet is far more effective than complaining in Western countries. The reality in China is often like this: As the post is deleted, the government pays attention to the content and sentiment of the post, and efforts to improve will follow. The situation in the West is that when you express dissatisfaction, you can often say whatever you want, but basically no one listens to you, so speaking is pointless.
The Internet was invented by the West, and it was tailored to their system. When it entered China, it needed to be "sinicized" to a certain extent to address the realities here. China must have network management, otherwise the Internet will politically "transform" China. It is necessary that some posts be deleted. At the same time, various measures should be proportionate, and the deletion of posts should not be polarized. Network management should not only maintain social order, but also leave due space for people to express their opinions.
To tell the truth, this is a very difficult process of exploration. It is necessary and desirable, the intent is good, and the implementation can lead to all kinds of encounters. I believe shortcomings are normal, and the goal should be to do the best one can.
There will be some friction, and even conflict, in such a process, which I don't think is really worth making a fuss about. Our society needs to be resilient to these frictions and situations. Friction in governance needs to be desensitized. Is it possible for such a big country to be too calm and too regulated? We need to adapt politically to "there is no problem here, but there is a problem there," and constantly maintain dynamic stability and balance.
In my opinion, the enormous scale of Chinese society is what gives it a particular stability. No matter how raucous something may be at a given time, it is likely to be quickly consigned and replaced by something new. Don't be afraid that there are many problems, some we can solve, and some we can't, but as the tide rises, they sink and their harm recedes. Whether its the government or the public, the whole of society should have confidence in China's resilience.
Below are translations of the top five comments on Hu's post.
Let the people speak, the sky won't fall [38,000 likes]
Let the people of Shanghai speak! Don't block their messages pleading for help! [12,000 likes]
This is a purely rational statement, but in this world, people still have emotions, psychological construction and support, and even in some extreme moments, the power of sensibility will be greater than that of reason. The inner support has collapsed, and it is useless to say anything rational. [9,309 likes]
[Thumbs Up][Thumbs Up][Thumbs Up]"The reality in China is often like this: As the post is deleted, the government pays attention to the content and sentiment of the post, and efforts to improve will follow. The situation in the West is that when you express dissatisfaction, you can often say whatever you want, but basically no one listens to you, so speaking is pointless." [3,401 likes]
I really feel more and more that this society is too divided. Two extremes are colliding and fighting every day, the extreme left and the extreme right. Where is the future? [2,411 likes]