Obama criticises the Great Firewall of China (Update)

November 16th, 2009 - 4:50 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama London, Nov. 16 (ANI): President Barack Obama has criticized the “Great Firewall of China” or the internet censorship in the communist country by saying that the open internet use should be encouraged.

Obama, who steered clear of touching sensitive topics during his first day in the country, used a live question-and-answer session with Chinese students in Shanghai to criticise censorship of the internet.

The Chinese side was nervous at US requests for a live broadcast and online streaming. Finally, the session was shown live only on Shanghai television, The Times reports.

Obama was asked whether he knew of the “Great Firewall” - the popular term for the blocks that China’s Government imposes on the Internet to keep out content its censors deem inappropriate for its citizens.

Obama said: “I have always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I am a big supporter of non-censorship. I recognise that different countries have different traditions.”

He continued the subtle criticism of his hosts, by saying: “I should be honest, there are times when I wish information didn’t flow so freely, then I wouldn’t have to listen to people criticise me all the time. People naturally when in positions of power think ‘How could that person say that of me? That’s irresponsible’.”

But Obama believed such openness made him a better leader, forcing him to listen to opinions he did not want to hear.

China’s leaders are rarely required - or have the opportunity - to be exposed to criticism.

The Great Firewall filters out almost all such remarks and, in any case, few dare to post comments disparaging to the leadership for fear of retribution.

He averted possible objections from Communist Party censors who say that the Internet needs to be monitored to protect its people from harm.

“The good outweighs the bad so much. That is why I am so glad the internet is part of this forum,” he said. (ANI)

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