Obama encourages unbridled Internet in China

November 16, 2009

Internet-savvy President Barack Obama told Chinese students that he is a big fan of the Web, though he doesn’t Twitter.
OBAMA-ASIA/At a town hall forum in Shanghai, a student who sent in a question by email pointed out that China has a huge online community with 350 million Internet users and 60 million bloggers.

He asked what Obama thought of the Chinese government’s “firewall” that blocks objectionable Internet sites and if he thought the Chinese should be able to “Twitter freely.”
“First of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter,” Obama replied. “I noticed that young people — they’re very busy with all these electronics. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone.”
But he added, “I’ve always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I’m a big supporter of non-censorship. This is part of the tradition of the United States.” Obama said a free Internet allows people around the world to think freely and hold their governments accountable.
Obama’s election campaign was credited with using the Internet in innovative ways — Facebook and texting — to raise money and rally a huge network of volunteers.
Traveling in China as part of a nine-day Asia tour, Obama made a point of highlighting the Internet at the town hall. He took questions from the students in attendance at the event as well as questions submitted over the Internet.
The question about the Chinese firewall was one of more than 1,000 submitted by email through the U.S. embassy. At the request of the White House, which did not want to be in the awkward position of pre-selecting a question, Bloomberg reporter Ed Chen, the president of the White House Correspondents Association, chose the question randomly by picking a number and relaying it to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Reuters photo by Jason Reed (a student poses a question to Obama at the town hall-style meeting at Shanghai’s Museum of Science and Technology, Nov. 16, 2009)


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Maybe we can finally get our biggest trading partner to step up and give people the freedom they deserve. It sickens me that we do so much business with such a repressive government.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

The Chinese government wants global business, they want to be more powerful, and they want more influence, yet they block their own people from free trade of thoughts and ideas.

I know it’s not all-inclusive but the censorship of media is hidden from a majority of the Chinese. I’m surprised the Olympics didn’t have more of an impact in opening their eyes. Hopefully articles like this one can help in a small way.

Mark Hanover

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

This is part of the tradition of the United States.” Obama said a free Internet allows people around the world to think freely and hold their governments accountable.

If this is true, then why can we not get Washington DC to fix the problems in America that they created. We write to the congress, Senate and the White House constantly, but they still refuse to listen.

Posted by dave | Report as abusive

I wish he would come and say the same thing here in the uk as our government here trundles towards building the British flavour firewall and monitoring system

Posted by Mark Hearne | Report as abusive

As an individual, i am really,mild shocked and surprised of Mr.Obama!s saying on never surfing twitter website.
He has large follower from twitter website.
Leave this sayings for a while.
Back to his speech at Chinese students, he is for free internet usages by Americans.
He had highlighted the real meanings and definitions on freedom of expression by all available media and from internet usages.
This is a welcome sayings, and interestingly, many Chinese students had exchanged their views with American President.
Surely,his visit to China will bring,establish and cementing their relations for their trade and commerce,foreign trade, cultural and social exchanges between the two countries.
Major credit goes to Mr.Nixon and to great diplomat Mr.Henry Kissinger for bringing China in to modern world focus.
Good things will prevail hereafter.
Totally speaking, Mr.Obama!s visit to developing Asian nations for mutual benefits to entire world.

Posted by krishnamurthi ramachandran | Report as abusive

Agree with Obama, Internet should be free for everyone. Obama has to free Internet in US from censoring, monitoring and managing by ISPs and RIAAMPAA. More than 30000 people prosecuted without court for having their IP address associated with illegally monitored WEB.

Posted by yeahright | Report as abusive

[…] Internet-savvy Obama doesn’t Twitter Read more at http://blogs.reuters.com/frontrow/2009/1 1/16/obama-tells-chinese-students-hes-an -internet-fan-but-do… […]

Posted by Obama encourages unbridled Internet in China | News Carrier! | Report as abusive

Eric i can remember when i met with a bank manager to show him a copy of a business plan to hopefully receive a business loan,the reality is you have not a lot of leverage other than past loan activity or project potential.Obama has an extensive past borrowing history ,and projections of massive reckless spending with a dramatic decline in dollar value.So to suggest that with his cap in hand he can start making demands to the Chinese is so naive.His leverage whether he bows, cringes, apologizes,or dithers, is diminishing by the hour.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive