Beijing: Silencing everyone is definitely not the intention behind setting up internet police units, a state-run Chinese daily said on Friday, adding that keeping the net secure is a real and pressing need.

An editorial “Web police stations not to curb expression” in the Global Times said that after the Ministry of Public Security announced it will assign internet police to major websites and net companies, “a minority of people in China felt insecure, unlike the majority of the public”.

China has 640 million netizens, twice the size of the US population, and the daily said that “Chinese people are quick to be influenced by the Internet”. 

“As the internet relates to crucial needs of the people, keeping it secure is a real and pressing need. Free speech is by no means the only problem in cyberspace and should not become the pivot of Internet-related affairs.

“There are both free speech and taboos on the Internet and the majority, including most dissenters, is able to differentiate which is which,” the editorial said.

It quickly added: “Silencing everyone is definitely not the intention of the draft cyber security law or of setting up Internet police units.”

The daily said that to define freedom of speech “represents a process of improving social governance to give the utmost freedom to people in speaking while not eroding the cohesion and unity of society”. 

“China has the largest group of netizens, one of the most dynamic Internet economies and probably the most influential online public opinion field. All these cannot exist if China considers freedom as taboo for the Internet,” it stressed.

The daily went on to say that China’s Internet development shows a “one-way path toward more freedom. China is unable to turn back. As an internal quality of China’s modernization, freedom of speech can neither be strangled by plotting nor fostered in a romantic way”. 

It said that “many Western elites hope freedom of online speech will ultimately overthrow China’s fundamental political system and repeal the Constitution. This should not be accepted by those who often give strong remarks online. Free speech will only be an embodiment of socialist China turning into a powerful country instead of into decline”. 

“In China, the Internet is like our community that requires freedom and also security, just as we expect in real life. Surely, we should give a big welcome to the stationing of law enforcers in the online community,” the daily added.

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