Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, went on BBC’s Newsnight yesterday to speak with presenter Gavin Esler (video in link). They discussed several issues — China will double per capita income of the people in 10 years, Diaoyu islands have belonged to to China “since centuries,” “it is up to the Syrian people to decide who will be their leaders,” etc. — but going along with recent themes, here’s their exchange on corruption and Internet censorship:
Liu: I think corruption is not a problem for China alone. Once you are in the period of social transformation, it’s unavoidable you’ll have all kinds of problems. Just like Deng Xiaoping once said at the beginning of opening up of China, he said, “When we open the window we’ll let in the fresh air, it’s unavoidable that flies and mosquitoes will be in.” But the important thing is how the party face up to it and adopt measures to deal with this problem. I think the leadership is resolute and determined.
Esler: Do you see things like the Internet as being like flies and mosquitoes? Do you see it as a bit of an irritation, because again, from our side, we don’t understand what you’re worried about when you want to control how people exchange information.
Liu: I think there’s a misperception about Internet development in China. In fact, the Chinese are much open in terms of Internet. In fact we have the most numbers of users in China today.
Esler: But our correspondent couldn’t even get on Facebook when he was in China. I mean, you can’t get on Twitter. It’s not quite as you present it.
Liu: In China, every day, there are hundreds of thousands of comments made by the bloggers, and 66 percent of Chinese Internet users make comments online. You know, it is up to the government to regulate these users, also in protection of the safety of the Internet to ensure that healthy content available and unhealthy content should be removed.
Esler: But isn’t that really up to ordinary people to decide? Looking at the history of your country, you’ve had thousands of years of creativity, and we see creativity as based on the free exchange of information. And part of the reasons why people in the West think you’re cracking down and being very hard on bloggers is it’s very diffuct to do for some people becasue you don’t like certain ideas.
Liu: If you are in China and can get connected in Internet, I think you can get all kinds of opinions, it’s much open. Lot of things can be debated, including politics, economics, cultural affairs. I think you have to have a big picture of development of the Internet back in China.”
Chinese Ambassador on China’s internet policy (video) (BBC)