Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with former Chinese Propaganda Minister Liu Yunshan in Beijing. It comes at a time when Chinese authorities are increasing their control over cyberspace. Zuckerberg was in Beijing attending an economic forum.
Facebook CEO meets the person that matters
Liu was the head of the Central Propaganda Department between 2002 and 2012, and now he is the First-ranked Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the Communist Party of China. Liu is one of those important people who inspect China’s “Great Firewall,” ensuring that the 1.4 billion inhabitants of the country are able to access a strictly censored version of the internet.
According to reports by China’s official Xinhua News Agency, Liu, in the meeting with Zuckerberg on Saturday, said he hopes the social media giant can share its experience with the Chinese companies to help “Internet development better benefit the people of all countries.”
To regulate Internet use, China has called for the creation of a worldwide Internet “governance system” and cooperation between countries. China has increased its efforts to promote controls that activists complain repress free expression.
China and its “Great Firewall”
Facebook was once available to Chinese citizens, but it was blocked in 2009 after the Ürümqi riots when it was found that Xinjiang independence activists used the social network to organize civil unrest. About 200 people died in the anti-government riots, and at least 10 men have since been executed for their roles in the conflict.
Apart from Facebook, other Western social media, including Twitter, are also currently banned in China, and online news sources tend to be increasingly censored to fit the political agenda of the country. Zuckerberg appears to be trying everything to encourage Chinese leaders to remove the prohibition on the use of Facebook in the country, but all his attempts have been more or less failures so far. The country, which has the world’s largest number of Internet users at 668 million as of last year, has still not removed the ban.
A slate of new rules and regulations has been introduced by Chinese censors to allow them to police digital and social media as closely as traditional publications. A cyberspace that cannot be controlled would pose a risk to domestic security, warned the country’s top Internet regulator repeatedly. It also warned that the government should decide who to allow into “its house.”