Feeds

Michelle Obama speaks out against censorship ... in China

First lady diplomacy given some edge in the Middle Kingdom

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Michelle Obama veered away from the usual niceties of matrimonial diplomacy on Saturday by arguing in a speech at Peking University that internet freedom should be a universal right.

FLOTUS is in China with her mother and daughters on a week-long tour designed to build closer ties between the world’s two superpowers and their respective leaders.

But she risked embarrassing her hosts with the speech to students at the university’s Stanford Centre, when she decided to opine on the topic of free speech.

Here are some of Obama's remarks:

I’m posting a daily travel blog with videos and photos of my experiences here in China, because I want young people in America to be part of this visit. And that’s really the power of technology –- how it can open up the entire world and expose us to ideas and innovations we never could have imagined.

And that’s why it’s so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media, because that’s how we discover the truth. That’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities and our country and our world. And that’s how we decide which values and ideas we think are best –- by questioning and debating them vigorously, by listening to all sides of an argument, and by judging for ourselves.

And believe me, I know how this can be a messy and frustrating process. My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens. And it’s not always easy, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Because time and again, we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices of and opinions of all their citizens can be heard.

Obama's remarks are not a direct attack on the Middle Kingdom, of course, but it’s also not exactly a secret that the US and China don’t see eye-to-eye on issues of press freedom and state-sanctioned censorship.

Although the comments came from a speech which focused mainly on education and cultural exchange, declaring that open access to information is “the birthright of every person on this planet” will irk the current administration, which has overseen an unprecedented crackdown on internet freedom.

That said, it’s not as if the majority of Chinese people will know or care about Obama's speech. The controversial comments will not have been republished by state media and any mention by online users quickly expunged.

Even a student who heard Obama live at the event appeared mindful of the repercussions of sharing her thoughts.

“It was quite enlightening to hear about her experience and her struggle. But it's not convenient for me to talk about such issues," English student Mary Yan told The Guardian.

The comments were of course not intended solely for Obama’s Chinese hosts. Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan may also have been in the first lady’s thoughts as she spoke of internet freedom.

He ordered Twitter to be blocked in the republic late last week in response to an alleged smear campaign which threatens to disrupt election plans. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?