Internet – “Only a few journalists, bloggers in prison”, academic

Why on earth did this piece by the Guardian blogs not show up at my radar screen? Failing search engines, I presume

Speaking at a debate entitled the Great (Fire)Wall of the Internet, Professor de Burgh said it was important not to overstate the curbs on free speech in China, which were often a legacy of confused laws and perpetrated by local officials.

Here is a professor, speaking at a conference, saying all those politically incorrect things about China.

Hugo de Burgh, a journalism professor and expert on China, argued last night that only a “tiny” proportion of people in the world’s most populous state were in prison for journalism or blogging.

Of course he drew fire from the representative of RSF, but the professor did not back off:

Prof de Burgh, author of China: Friend or Foe, said he supported the work of RSF and groups like Amnesty International in campaigning for freedoms online, but added that it was important China was not stereotyped in the debate.

He said he was sick of listening to “grandstanding” western politicians criticise China while also cracking down on freedoms and being involved in scenarios such as Iraq. He said China was far from perfect but had made incredible strides in recent years and that society was more open than in the past.

I estimate that the professor will not get a lot of invitations to speak at this kind conferences: Europe and the US might have abolished formal censorship, you still have to toe the line of political correctness.