Lu Wei is chief of China's State Internet Information Office, a man they call "the gatekeeper of the Chinese internet." According to him, the world's most notorious and ambitious system of Internet censorship is actually just "management."
Lu was answering a question from a CNN reporter at a press conference ahead of the Second World Internet Conference, which will be held in Wuzhen next week. He went on to say that the Great Firewall, which blocks subjects like political dissidents, religious minorities, sex, scandals, and so on, is really just a system for blocking a few foreign websites because China "has the right to choose friends" and to screen out "those who earn China's money, take China's market, and then slander China."
In a lovely bit of statemanlike irony, he also mentioned, "The Chinese government learnt how to manage the internet from Western developed countries, we have not learnt enough yet."
Take that, David Cameron.
Under Xi's rule, China's internet freedom has decreased continuously since 2012, according to research by US-funded group Freedom House. In 2015, China came last of 65 nations on the group's internet freedom ranking.
However, Lu denied that China's internet has increasingly becoming an intranet: "China's open door will never be closed, we are open to the world's internet companies. As long as [companies] do not harm China's national interests, do no harm the interests of Chinese consumers, we welcome [them] to develop in China."
There is no internet censorship in China, says China's top censor
[Vivienne Zeng/Hong Kong Free Press]
(Image: 2014年12月2日，中国网信办主任鲁炜在乔治•华盛顿大学发表讲话。（美国之音郁岗拍摄）, Voice of America, public domain)