(11 November, 2011) - Washington, D.C.- On November 17, 2011, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China will hold a hearing on “China's Censorship of the Internet and Social Media: The Human Toll and Trade Impact” to discuss the devastating effects of China’s internet censorship.
Since the early 2000’s, with the help of technology giants like Cisco, China began building the “Golden Shield Project”. Although Cisco tries to conceal its cooperation with the PSB to U.S. media, it boasts of those same business deals on its Chinese website. (Click here for a pdf of the translated articles). This “Great Firewall” enables China to filter out “offensive” information, ban “hostile” websites, and track the whereabouts of the country’s internet users. China now has the world’s most sophisticated system of internet censorship and surveillance, employing over 30,000 internet police who scrutinize all website content. Millions of “disharmonious” webpages are removed yearly. Hundreds of cyber writers are intimidated or even detained by police, and dozens are arrested or sentenced on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” Through many recent crackdowns, it is clear that China can efficiently suppress dissenting voices on the internet and track down those who choose to exercise free speech.
Among those who will testify about the human impact of these policies is Alex Li – son of a Chinese online writer. His father, Li Yuanlong, was sentenced to two years in prison for posting a mere four articles on overseas websites. Alex was questioned by the police about his father’s “subversive” actions when he was only 17 years old, without the knowledge or consent of his parents. He will share details about the harassment and persecution he and his family faced as a result of these articles.
Additionally, Pastor John Zhang will testify about the experiences of Chinese victims of internet censorship, particularly that of Liu Xianbin and his family. Liu is currently serving his third prison sentence- 10 years for “inciting subversion”- after publishing pro-democracy articles on overseas websites. With the help of LRF and Pastor Zhang, Liu’s daughter Chen Qiao recently came to the U.S. to study. Liu has only been out of prison for less than 4 years of his daughter’s life; Chen Qiao is now 14 years old.
Discussing the growth of China’s internet will be Xiao Qiang, Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley, who currently runs the China Digital Times news portal. Witnesses Gil Kaplan, President of the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws, and Ed Black, President of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, will address how trade regulations can help curb China’s internet censorship.
The hearing will be held Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10 a.m. Please view the CECC hearing announcement for location information and details.