CMP fellow and Peking University professor Hu Yong (胡泳), one of China’s leading experts on the Internet and new media, pens his own response in Southern Metropolis Daily today to the recent suggestion by several top Internet executives that a “Special Internet Zone” should be created in the southern hub of Shenzhen.
Hu Yong is clearly opposed to the idea of “special zones” for China’s Internet sector, which some have suggested might be necessary to encourage competitiveness within the industry in an environment of rigorous Internet controls. This issue, obviously, is related to the extended Web crackdown in China through last year, and to Google’s recent departure from the mainland.
Sina.com founder and Dianji CEO Wang Zhidong responded: “All along, Shenzhen has had the special zone culture in its veins. In a national context it might be very difficult to resolve the contradiction between the current regulatory approach [to the Web] and [the needs of] Internet innovation, but as a special zone couldn’t Shenzhen become a test case?”
If I hadn’t seen this report on paper and in black ink with my very own eyes, I might have thought it was an April Fools Day joke — and a frosty joke at that.
. . . What we hope, and the most ideal situation, would be the creation of many competing [technology] enterprises overseen by a transparent supervisory mechanism. Supported by good critical citizens, these factors would constitute an optimal force capable of making China’s Internet flexible and responsive in service of the public interest. This work cannot be accomplished by the creation of one or two “special zones” . . .