Lu Wei: Liberty and Order in Cyberspace (Full Text)

Updated: 2013-09-09 21:10


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Liberty and Order in Cyberspace

——Keynote speech at the Fifth China-UK Internet Roundtable

(September 9, 2013)

Lu Wei

Minister of the State Internet Information Office, China

Good morning! Since I arrived in the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the World Wide Web, I cannot help recalling a touching moment at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Two teenagers, Frankie and June, gave an exciting performance in tribute to the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, for his gift to the world. Mr. Berners-Lee, sitting in the center of the Olympic Stadium with a smile on his face, tapped on a computer keyboard, and then a row of giant letters flashed around the stadium: "THIS IS FOR EVERYONE".

The sentence is short, but points out the relationship between man and the Internet. As one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, the Internet is a treasure, a resource and a homeland for all mankind. It has turned the world into a "village." In this "village," home to 7 billion people, everyone pursues freedom and happiness. But by what means can we achieve and safeguard liberty? The famous writer George Bernard Shaw once said: "Liberty means responsibility." I think I can also say "Liberty means order." The two are closely linked, as liberty is the aim of order and order is the safeguard of liberty. Liberty cannot exist without order. Where there is no order, there is no liberty. The more we seek liberty, the more we need order. The essence of order is exactly that it is "for everyone."

For the sake of everyone: we advocate the establishment of an order, in the following six aspects.

Firstly, we call for an order of mutual respect. In the United Kingdom, being a "gentleman" means keeping to etiquette and order. In China, we have a parallel title junzi. Being a "junzi" means "not imposing on others what you yourself do not desire." We also need "Internet junzi" and "Internet gentlemen." In cyberspace, people with different skin colors, nationalities, cultures and languages should be equally entitled to participation, free speech and development. Although each country has a different status quo, culture and tradition, we should abandon prejudices, respect differences and be tolerant and open. In particular, we should respect cyber sovereignty, discard hegemony and avoid putting our own country's interests above those of other countries. We should join hands to build an order for the development of the Internet on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment.

Secondly, we should encourage the establishment of an order for sharing information. The Internet was designed for disseminating and sharing information. Information channels capital, influences decision-making and determines transactions. One factor undergirding the competitiveness of a company or institution is whether it is able to understand market rules, predict the outlook, discover opportunities, and control market risks through information. The amount of information a country can obtain is an important symbol of its soft power and influence. The Internet is rife with problems, all of which are related to subjectivity, bias, imbalances and asymmetry of information dissemination. Twenty percent of the world's population controls 80 percent of the information, while the remaining 80 percent of the population has access to less than 20 percent of the information. This has led to a large information gap. We should strive to break down the information barrier and bridge the information gap. We should make information flow on the Internet freely, safely and in an orderly way, and turn it into a treasure for everyone, thus bringing more benefits to society and humanity.

Thirdly, we should encourage the establishment of an order for spreading positive energy. The phrase "positive energy" topped the list of China's buzzwords in 2012. The popularity of the phrase is attributed to the book, "Rip It Up", written by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman. The phrase "positive energy" has acquired extra levels of meaning in China today. All positive, sound, inspiring, supportive, hopeful and loving people and things are considered "positive energy." Positive energy is meant to give people confidence and hope, encourage people to love their country, society and life, as well as to pursue nice things. Everything we do is ultimately for the sake of spreading positive energy. Positive energy knows no boundaries. If everyone were to spread positive energy on the Internet, the world would be a much better place.

Fourthly, we should establish an Internet order which is civilized and harmonious. The Internet is a product of social development, and a symbol of modern civilization. It carries the important missions of passing on cultural heritage and promoting civilization. But one cannot forget that there is a large amount of harmful information on the Internet, especially pornographic and violent contents, which have severely impaired teenagers' physical and mental health. The "dregs" of the Internet, if not cleaned in time, will affect social trends, child development, and the sound development of the Internet. The British government has long been committed to protecting young people from exposure to harmful information online. Civilization and progress are the common pursuit of mankind. In order to create a healthy and harmonious Internet environment, all countries should cultivate a civilized Internet, and guide their people to use the Internet in a civilized way. We should utilize the Internet to promote cultural diversity, social progress and civilization.

Fifthly, we should establish an Internet order that helps maintain security. The Internet is a worldwide platform for sharing information. It is "a community of common interests". No country is immune to such global challenges as cybercrime, hacking and invasion of privacy. In cyberspace, it is becoming increasingly difficult to uphold security for one's own country by sacrificing that of others. It is also not practical to pursue one's own interests by rejecting others' needs. China is also a victim of hacking. We have always firmly opposed all forms of Internet attacks. We hope to deepen exchanges and cooperation with other countries in online cyber security, anti-terrorism, law enforcement and protection of privacy. Through joint efforts, we can build a strong foundation to safeguard cyber security.

Finally, we should establish an Internet order that features law-based governance. Good order depends on rules. The Internet is a free and open platform. Everyone has the right to speak. However, compliance with the law is the bottom line that no one should violate. Last year, British Olympic diver Tom Daley received a death threat from a Twitter user after missing out on a medal. The user was later arrested. Recently, a British man was arrested for a series of tweets reviling British feminist writer Caroline Criado-Perez and threatening sexual assault. Cyber violence, online rumor and online fraud are the tumors of the Internet. We must stick to the bottom line and exercise governance in accordance with the law. What we advocate is that all stakeholders of the Internet work together to build an international order for Internet governance within the UN framework that is multilateral, democratic and transparent. That will make the Internet more orderly, and better serve the development of all countries and the interests of all mankind.

As a developed country in the Internet world, Britain has advanced experience in Internet content management, technical support, industry self-regulation, and laws and regulations. In particular, the UK has formulated a national strategy for the Internet. Such a decision is wise and far-sighted. China is among the latecomers to the Internet. However, China's Internet is developing rapidly. It has two distinctive features: a huge Internet population and a huge number of websites. With an Internet penetration rate of 44.1 percent, China has almost 600 million Internet users. And the number is still on the rise. The respective numbers of micro bloggers and WeChat users have both exceed 300 million. More than 200 million micro blogs are posted and forwarded each day. The Chinese mainland hosts more than 2,940,000 websites. Five Chinese websites,,,, and, are listed in the Top 20 Most Popular Websites in the World in 2013. The Internet is a new platform for many Chinese entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. The Chinese government has stuck to its basic Internet policy: active use, scientific development, law-based administration and ensured security. The Chinese Internet market is open to the world. We are willing to share the fruits of the development of China's Internet with the world. Recently, the Chinese government introduced a series of measures, such as promoting information consumption, and implementing the "Broadband China" strategy, all of which demonstrate China's confidence and determination in accelerating Internet development. The Internet in China is less than 20 years old and far from mature. China needs to learn from the UK and other countries with a developed Internet in service provision, management, development, use, and many other aspects.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pointed out that it is in the common interests of the international community to uphold peace, security, openness, and cooperation in cyberspace. There are many things in common between the Internet in China and the Internet in the UK. We have many things to offer each other, and we have carried out good cooperation in recent years. This is the fifth China - UK Internet round-table conference. I feel that all nations across the world, including China and the UK, have more and more consensuses, possess more and enjoy more resources to share and more and more win-win opportunities.

Both as rapid developing Internet giants with great global influence, China and the UK play a significant role in establishing the international Internet order and shoulder important responsibilities. We sincerely hope that China and the UK can deepen our consensus and strengthen cooperation in the following five aspects:

Firstly, we should establish a regular exchange and communication mechanism. We can open up dialogue channels between the Internet management departments of our two countries. We can also strive to incorporate the Internet roundtable conference into the China-UK Strategic Dialogue Framework so as to lift it to a higher level.

Secondly, we should establish a new mechanism for collaborative innovation cooperation. We should encourage our Internet companies to invest in each other's countries, promote R&D in key technologies and industry cooperation, and promote the popularization and application of new technologies.

Thirdly, we should establish a mechanism for research and consultation. We should encourage research exchanges in the major theoretical and practical issues about the Internet and actively explore rules for the development of the Internet.

Fourthly, we should establish a cooperation mechanism for cyber security, so as to reinforce coordination on the handling of problems including cyber attack and youth protection, and jointly create a reliable safe and credible cyber environment.

Finally, we should establish a mechanism for Internet information sharing, embracing greater openness and tolerance and promoting the flow of information on the Internet in an orderly and universally accessible way.

Ladies and gentlemen:

The ancient Chinese thinker Confucius said that a truly mature person is someone who is able to "follow the dictates of his heart without transgressing what is right. " In this Internet age, we should perform our duties to establish, maintain and defend order, while enjoying what our hearts desire. I am firmly convinced that the wise peoples of China and the UK will live up to this historical mission. By deepening consensus and promoting cooperation, we can achieve mutual benefit, and help build a new international Internet order and a more beautiful future for the Internet!

I sincerely hope that the Internet will bring everybody happiness and health .