Reporters Without Borders has questions to put to Xi Jinping, the Chinese vice-president who began a two-day visit to Washington today, and urges Internet users all over the world, including China, to contribute by posting their own questions on US or Chinese web platforms. A list of questions will made public and sent to the Chinese delegation visiting the United States.
“We have sent the Chinese authorities many letters in the past, some open and some confidential, but none has received a reply,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Using a different method of communication may not suffice to elicit a response this time either, but we would also like to show that our questions and concerns are shared by other Internet users all over the world.
“As the system for registering Chinese Internet users under their real identity (实名制) does not take effect until 16 March, there is still time to put legitimate questions to Xi Jinping without being accused of ‘attempted subversion’ or ‘disturbing public order.’ It would be interesting to repeat the exercise after 16 March as it is likely that, when forced to identify themselves, fewer Internet users will be ready to voice their views freely on such a sensitive subject.
“All social networks are censored in China. But the authorities must realize that it unrealistic to try to exercise absolute control over news and information in a country that has more than 500 million Internet users and more than 300 million microbloggers. And if Internet users do not feel free to express themselves on the main web platforms, they can still conduct anonymous debates on the many forums that do not verify their identity.”
Vice-President Xi, who is expected to replace Hu Jintao as Communist Party secretary-general later this year and then succeed him as president next year, was due to meet with US President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden today.
Reporters Without Borders is making various web platforms available to Internet users who want to ask questions about freedom of information and media freedom. All aspects of these issues – legal, technical or political – may be addressed. A selection of the questions that have been posted online will be sent by Reporters Without Borders at 12:00 GMT tomorrow (15 February) to the Chinese delegation in the United States, via the US State Department.
To submit their questions, Internet users may connect to the Reporters Without Borders accounts on the following social networks:
Facebook : facebook.com/Reporterssansfrontieres
Twitter : @RSFAsiaPacific, @RSF_Asia (中文)
Reporters Without Borders advises Internet users, especially those in China, who would like to connect to the following platforms to take a great deal of care. The use of anonymous accounts is strongly recommended.
Sina Weibo (新浪微博) : 无国界记者亚洲 : http://www.weibo.com/u/2616619327 ;
QQ : 无国界记者(@wuguojiejizhe) : http://t.qq.com/wuguojiejizhe# ;
Renren (人人) : 无国界记 : http://www.renren.com/443187218/profile ;
China is ranked 174th out of 179 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and has been classified as an “Enemy of the Internet” for years because of its system of Internet censorship and surveillance, which is one of the most sophisticated in the world.