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Excerpts from China’s White Paper: The Internet in China

[Editor’s Note: On June 8, 2010, the Information Office of the State Council of China released a white paper, “The Internet in China.” Although the government of China has never admitted its censorship of the information on the Internet, the document did provide some data on the regime’s policy and the legal regulations it has adopted to manage and control the Internet. The following are translations of the excerpts from the white paper.] [1]

China’s Launch of the Internet and Its Internet Policies

“During the Sino-U.S. Joint Committee of Science and Technology meeting in Washington, D.C. in April 1994, the Chinese representatives reached an agreement with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences on China’s access to the Internet. On April 20 a pilot network to serve education and scientific research was linked to the Internet via the 64K special line in Beijing’s Zhongguancun district. This full-function connection marked China’s formal access to the Internet.”

“In 1993 the State Economic Informationization Joint Meeting was initiated to lead the construction of a national network of public economic information. In 1997, the Ninth Five-Year Plan for State Informationization and the Long-range Objective of the Year 2010 was formulated, which listed the Internet as part of the state information infrastructure, and set the goal of pushing forward national economic informationization by vigorous development of the Internet industry. In 2002 the Specialized Plan for Informationization in the Tenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development was promulgated. It defined China’s priorities including promotion of e-government, development of the software industry, strengthening the utilization of information resources, and acceleration of e-commerce. In November 2002, the 16th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) set the goal of “using IT to propel industrialization, which will in turn stimulate IT application, blazing a new path to industrialization.” In November 2005 the State Informationization Strategy (2006-2020) was formulated, further clarifying the priorities of Internet development as promoting national economic informationization while adjusting the economic structure and transforming the patterns of economic growth; building e-government to enhance the capability of governance; and spurring the informationization of social services while building a harmonious society.”

“In March 2006, the National People’s Congress (NPC) reviewed and approved the Outline of the 11th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, which envisaged the speeding up of the integration of the networks of telecommunication, radio, television and the Internet, building the next-generation Internet and accelerating its commercial application. In April 2007, the Politburo proposed to build up a cyber culture industry and the production of relevant facilities. In October 2007, the 17th National Congress of the CCP developed the strategy of “developing a modern industrial system, integrating IT application with industrialization, and turning scale-oriented industries into strength-oriented industries.” In January 2010, the State Council decided to accelerate the integration of the networks of telecommunication, radio, television and the Internet, so as to promote the development of the information and culture industries.”

Current Scale of the Internet in China

“China has injected enormous capital into Internet infrastructure construction. From 1997 to 2009, a total of 4.3 trillion yuan (US$0.63 trillion) was invested in this regard, building a nationwide optical communication network with a total length of 8.267 million km. Of that, 840,000 km consisted of long-distance optical cables. By the end of 2009, Chinese telecommunication companies had 136 million broadband Internet access ports, and international outlet bandwidth was 866,367 Mbps, with seven land-submarine cables and 20 land cables, that had a combined capacity exceeding 1,600 GB. That ensured Internet access to 99.3% of Chinese towns, and 91.5% of villages, with broadband to 96.0% of the towns. In January 2009, the government began to issue third-generation (3G) licenses to mobile service suppliers. Today, the 3G network covers almost the whole country.”

“By the end of 2009 the number of Chinese netizens had reached 384 million, 618 times that of 1997 and an annual increase of 31.95 million users. In addition, the Internet had reached 28.9% of the total population, higher than the world average. At the same time, there were 3.23 million websites running in China, which was 2,152 times that of 1997. The number of IPv4 addresses approached 230 million, making China the second-largest owner in the world. Of all the netizens, 346 million used broadband and 233 million used mobile phones to access the Internet. They had moved on from dialing the access numbers to broadband and mobile phones.”

“Beginning in the late 1990s, China launched the “Next-Generation High Credibility Network” and relevant technological projects. In 2001 the first NFCNET was completed in Beijing. In 2003 the China Next-Generation Internet (CNGI) began, signaling the start of a massive R&D program in China and the construction of the next-generation Internet. So far, it has built the world largest IPv6 demonstration network, which uses world-class technology such as the IPv6 router of small and medium capacity, genuine IPv6 source address validation technology, and next-generation Internet transition technology. The technical proposals China raised regarding domain names internationalization, IPv6 source address validation, and IPv4-IPv6 transition technology have been accepted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and incorporated into the Internet international standards and protocol.”

“By the end of 2009 the Internet had reached 40% of the population in eastern China but only 21.5% in western China; and urban Internet users made up 72.2% of the national total, leaving the other 27.8% in rural areas.”

“In the past 16 years the average growth rate of the added value of the Chinese IT industry grew at over 26.6% annually, with its proportion of the national economy increasing from less than 1% to 10%.”

“In 2008 Internet-related industries generated a turnover of 650 billion yuan (US$95.7 billion), with sales of Internet-related equipment reaching 500 billion yuan (US$73.6 billion), accounting for 1/60 of China’s GDP, and 1/10 of its global trade. Its software operations had a turnover of 19.84 billion yuan (US$2.92 billion), up 26% over 2007.”

“According to a sample survey, in 2009 about 230 million people in China gathered information using search engines, 240 million communicated through real-time telecommunications devices, 46 million received education with the help of the Internet, 35 million conducted securities trading on the Internet, 15 million sought jobs through the Internet, and 14 million arranged trips via the Internet.”

Laws and Regulations on Internet Control

“Since 1994, China has enacted a series of laws and regulations concerning Internet administration. They include the following:

The Decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Guarding the Internet   The Security Law of the People’s Republic of China on Electronic Signatures,

Regulations on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China,

Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services,

Regulations on the Protection of Computer Information System Security of the People’s Republic of China,

Regulations on the Protection of the Right to Online Dissemination of Information,

Provisions on the Administration of Foreign-funded Telecommunications Enterprises,

Measures on the Administration of Security Protection of the International Network of Computer Information Networks,

Provisions on the Administration of Internet News Information Services,

Provisions on the Administration of Electronic Bulletin Services via the Internet”

“Relevant provisions of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, General Principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Minors, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Punishment in the Public Order and Security Administration, and other laws are applicable in the case of Internet administration.”

“The Chinese government plays the leading role in Internet administration. Relevant government bodies, according to their statutory duties, safeguard Chinese citizens’ rights and interests, public interests and state security by law. The state telecommunications authorities are responsible for the administration of the Internet industry, including the administration of basic resources of the Internet such as domain names, and IP addresses within China. Abiding by the Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services, the state practices a licensing system for commercial Internet information services and a registration system for non-commercial Internet information services. According to the Measures, state press, publication, education, health and other administrative departments practice licensing systems for ‘Internet information services concerning the press, publication, education, medical care, medicine and medical instruments.’ Public security organs and other state law-enforcement agencies bear the responsibility for Internet security supervision and administration, and investigate and punish all types of network crimes.”

“The state proactively promotes industry self-regulation and public supervision. The Internet Society of China (ISC) was founded in May 2001. It is a national organization of the Internet industry with a mission for serving the development of that industry, netizens, and the decisions of the government. The ISC has issued a series of self-disciplinary regulations, including the Public Pledge of Self-regulation and Professional Ethics for the China Internet Industry, Provisions of Self-regulation on Not Spreading Pornographic and Other Harmful Information for Internet Websites, the Public Pledge of Self-regulation on Anti-malicious Software, the Public Pledge of Self-regulation on Blog Service, the Public Pledge of Self-regulation on Anti-Internet Viruses, the Declaration of Self-regulation on Copyright Protection of China’s Internet Industry, and other regulations, which greatly promote the healthy development of the Internet. … Since 2004, in order to strengthen public supervision of Internet services, the state has established the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center (CIIRC), the Network Crimes Reporting Website, the 12321 Harmful and Spam Internet Information Reporting and Reception Center, the 12390 Pornography Crackdown and Press and Publication Copyright Joint Reporting Center and other public reporting and reception organizations. In January 2010, the government issued the Measures for Encouraging the Reporting of Pornographic and Vulgar Information on the Internet and Mobile Media.”

“China advocates the rational use of technology to curb the dissemination of illegal information online. Based on the characteristics of the Internet and considering the actual requirements of effective administration of the Internet, it advocates the exertion of technical means, in line with relevant laws and regulations and with reference to common international practices, to prevent and curb the harmful effects of illegal information on state security, the public interest and minors. The Decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Guarding Internet Security, Regulations on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China, Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services, Measures on the Administration of Security Protection of the International Networking of Computer Information Networks, and other laws and regulations clearly prohibit the spread of information that contains contents subverting state power, undermining national unity, infringing upon national honor and interests, inciting ethnic hatred and secession, advocating heresy, pornography, violence, terror, and other information that infringes upon the legitimate rights and interests of others. According to these regulations, basic telecommunication business operators and Internet information service providers shall establish Internet security management systems and utilize technical measures to prevent the transmission of all types of illegal information.”

“The Decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Guarding Internet Security, Regulations on Telecommunications of the People’s Republic of China and Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services stipulate that no organization or individual may produce, duplicate, announce or disseminate information having the following contents: being against the cardinal principles set forth in the Constitution; endangering state security, divulging state secrets, subverting state power and jeopardizing national unification; damaging state honor and interests; instigating ethnic hatred or discrimination and jeopardizing ethnic unity; jeopardizing state religious policy, propagating heretical or superstitious ideas; spreading rumors, disrupting the social order and stability; disseminating obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, brutality and terror or abetting crime; humiliating or slandering others, trespassing on the lawful rights and interests of others; and other contents forbidden by laws and administrative regulations. These regulations are the legal basis for the protection of Internet information security within the territory of the People’s Republic of China. All Chinese citizens, foreign citizens, legal persons and other organizations within the territory of China must obey these provisions.”

[1] Website, June 8, 2010