Kerry Talks Chinese Censorship In Meeting With Bloggers

Secretary of State John Kerry met with Chinese bloggers this week, to discuss Internet censorship and press freedom in the country.

Kerry Talks Chinese Censorship In Meeting With Bloggers
U.S. State Department

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited China last week during his latest tour of Asia, for a brief meeting touching on some sensitive subjects.

02Kerry, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang discussed energy policy, climate change and issues with North Korea. (Via CNTV)

He also met with a group of bloggers to discuss the Internet censorship in the country, but the Washington Post reports it wasn’t the most fruitful of conferences.

“[Kerry] seemed to be put on the defensive by their questions and appeals for help, insisting that he had urged Chinese leaders to support greater Internet and freedom of the press.”

Kerry’s meeting comes as China’s censorship activities make headlines. In January an apparent attempt to block access to certain sites didn’t go as planned and wound up stalling a huge chunk of China’s Internet activity for several hours — and routing much of that traffic to a two-story building in Cheyenne, Wyoming. (Via The Verge, The Washington Post)

But when it does work, China’s Great Firewall has significant and wide-ranging effects on the country’s Internet activity.

One political scientist who has studied the censorship told the Atlantic it’s the “most extensive effort to selectively censor human expression ever implemented.”

The last time the U.S. and China cooperatively addressed Internet policy was in 2013, when they met to defuse the thorny issue of cyberattacks on U.S. companies originating in China. (Via Bloomberg)

Kerry's meeting with bloggers on Saturday was a smaller, lower-key event, but Kerry's comments could indicate progress on the issue.

Bloomberg reports Kerry said he would look into allegations U.S. companies had assisted China in suppressing access to the Internet and denounced the incarceration of bloggers who had taken to the Internet to criticize the government. (Via U.S. State Department)

He was quoted saying, “I emphasized that respect for human rights and for the exchange of information in a free manner contributes to the strength of a society in a country. Recent arrests of peaceful advocates for reform run counter, in our judgment, to all of our best interests and the ability to make long term progress.” (Via Bloomberg)

Secretary Kerry will continue his Asia tour with a stop in Indonesia Saturday to discuss climate change.