New Delhi: China’s state-run mouthpiece on Wednesday published an article defending the country against western criticism of cyber censorship by pointing towards India’s record for shutting down internet services for security reasons.
China has been accused of maintaining a high level of censorship over its internet services, with Chinese citizens not being allowed to access certain applications, visit banned websites or post about certain topics on their indigenous social media websites.
The article in People’s Daily titled “India’s internet shutdown shows normal practice for sovereign countries” uses internet shutdown in Assam and Meghalaya to defend against US criticism of Chinese orders to stop all internet services in the volatile province of Xinjiang.
India holds the world record for the highest number of internet shutdowns ordered by the government. When India changed the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir in August, the entire state’s internet services were blocked. Several measures have been reverted, but full services have yet to be restored.
Similarly, Assam’s internet services had been restricted when protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill broke out last week.
The Chinese writer claimed that the US has always seen India as an example of democracy in Asia since the 1950s. It also cited the US administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy report that identified India as a geopolitical partner as both shared “common ideology and similar political system”.
The article also noted that India is also the world’s second-largest internet market with 650 million connected users.
Noting that Assam and Meghalaya alone had 32 million netizens, the author stated, “India did not hesitate to shut down the internet in these two states to cope when there is a significant threat to national security”.
The author then lamented that when China had adopted a similar strategy in Xinjiang, it was sharply criticised by mainstream media in the US and Europe.
“The internet shutdown in India has once again proved that the necessary regulation of the internet is a reasonable choice of sovereign countries based on national interests, and a natural extension of national sovereignty in cyberspace,” said the article.
The Chinese author then sought to argue that the West was “squeezing the sovereignty of developing countries”.
“The internet cannot be independent of national sovereignty. It is a routine operation for governments all over the world to manage the internet based on national interests, including shutting down the internet in a state of emergency,” said the article in the People’s Daily.