BEIJING - The Chinese government Tuesday published a white paper on its Internet policy, stressing the guarantee of citizens' freedom of speech on the Internet and more intensive application of it.
The white paper, released by the State Council Information Office, introduced facts of the development and use of the Internet in China, and elaborated on the country's basic policies on the Internet.
The Chinese government actively advocates and supports the development and application of the Internet across the country, it said, stressing the government's basic Internet policy: active use, scientific development, law-based administration and ensured security.
By the end of 2009 the number of netizens in China had reached 384 million, 618 times that of 1997 with an annual increase of 31.95 million users.
The Internet had reached 28.9 percent of the total population by the end of 2009, higher than the world average. Its accessibility will be raised to 45 percent of the population in the coming five years, it said.
There were 3.23 million websites running in China last year, which was 2,152 times that of 1997.
Of all the netizens, 346 million used broadband and 233 million used mobile phones to access the Internet. They had moved on from dialing the access numbers to broadband and mobile phones.
"These statistics make China among the top of the developing countries in developing and popularizing the Internet," the paper said.
The Internet has become an engine promoting the economic development of China. Information technology (IT) including the Internet and its industry has made significant contributions to the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, it said.
In the past 16 years, the average growth rate of the added value of Chinese IT industry grew at over 26.6 percent annually, with its proportion in the national economy increasing from less than 1 percent to 10 percent, according to the paper.
Meanwhile, the Internet has become an indispensable tool in people's every-day life, it said.
According to a sample survey, in 2009 alone, about 230 million people in China gathered information using search engines, and 240 million communicated through real-time telecommunications devices.
Also, 46 million Chinese people received education with the help of the Internet, 35 million conducted securities trading on the Internet, 15 million sought jobs through the Internet, and 14 million arranged trips via the Internet.
The Chinese government is determined to further promote Internet development and application so that more people can benefit from the Internet, the paper said.
"Chinese citizens fully enjoy freedom of speech on the Internet," it said, adding that China's websites attach great importance to providing netizens with opinion expression services.
Over 80 percent of China's websites provided electronic bulletin service. And there are over 1 million BBSs and some 220 million bloggers in China.
According to a sample survey, over 66 percent of Chinese netizens frequently place postings to discuss various topics, and to fully express their opinions and represent their interests.
"The Internet's role in supervision is given full play," the paper said.
Over the past few years, a great number of the problems reported through the Internet have been resolved.
In order to facilitate the public's reporting of corrupt and degenerate officials and suchlike, the central discipline inspection and supervision authorities, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and other relevant bodies have set up informant websites.
The informant website of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision, and the website of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention are playing an important role in preventing and punishing corruption and degeneration among officials.
A sample survey found that over 60 percent of netizens had a positive opinion of the fact that the government gives wide scope to the Internet's role in supervision, and considered it a manifestation of China's socialist democracy and progress, the paper said.
"The Chinese government believes that the Internet is an important infrastructure facility for the nation. Within Chinese territory the Internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty," it said, stressing that the Internet sovereignty of China should be respected and protected.
According to the paper, computer crimes in China have been on the increase in recent years.
Public security departments dealt with 142 computer crime cases in 1998, 29,000 in 2007, 35,000 in 2008 and 48,000 in 2009.
"China is one of the countries suffering most from hacking," it said.
According to incomplete statistics, more than one million IP addresses in China were controlled from overseas in 2009, 42,000 websites were distorted by hackers.
Besides, 18 million Chinese computers are infected by the Conficker virus every month, about 30 percent of the computers infected globally.
National situations and cultural traditions differ among countries, and so concern about Internet security also differs, the paper said.
"Concerns about Internet security of different countries should be fully respected," it said.
The Chinese government will constantly adjust relevant policies to better match the inherent law and the objective requirements of the development and administration of the Internet, according to the paper.
The 31-page document is divided into six sections: Endeavors to Spur the Development and Application of the Internet, Promoting the Extensive Use of the Internet, Guaranteeing Citizens' Freedom of Speech on the Internet, Basic Principles and Practices of Internet Administration, Protecting Internet Security, and Active International Exchanges and Cooperation.