Call for Internet Freedom in China

As the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre approaches, the lack of media freedom in China is getting renewed attention.  Notably, a number of prominent Chinese human rights advocates have called on Congressional leaders to ensure that America’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) takes steps to counter Internet censorship in China and other regimes. 

“In our view, the Chinese government’s ability to undermine the civil, political and religious rights of the Chinese people is increasingly tied to the failure of the U.S. government to challenge China’s Internet firewalls,” they wrote. “We further believe, as BBG senior officials have acknowledged, that a committed firewall circumvention initiative will be very likely to rapidly permit hundreds of millions of Chinese, and equivalent numbers of other closed society residents, to have the same access to the Internet that we have in America.”

Among those signing the letter were Yang Jianli, President of Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China, and Zhou Fengsuo, Co-founder of Humanitarian China and a senior leader of the Tiananmen Students Democracy Movement.  Both testified today at a hearing before the human rights panel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Voice of America, in its coverage of the Tiananmen anniversary, notes, “[W]hile the memory of the government's bloody crack down on protesters is alive in the minds of many, the anniversary is likely to go unnoticed in Chinese media. The media blackout is a strong reminder of how, 25 years after the events of the spring of 1989, China's leaders have yet to respond to one of the protesters' key demands - the call for press freedom.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: May 30, 2014