Chinese think-tank finds Facebook a political threat

Inside the world’s biggest Internet market in China, Facebook is being labelled as a political threat and a Western ‘spy tool’.

A new report by a top government-funded Chinese think-tank indicates that Beijing is unlikely to lift its year-old ban on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, in the near future.

On Friday, the Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper splashed a front-page headline that ‘Facebook could be a spy tool’.

The newspaper quoted a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) saying that ‘Facebook and certain other social networking sites may be exploited by Western intelligence services and used for subversive purposes...Its special political function can be a threat’. “In the name of freedom, some organisations or people are encouraging revolt. These are what we worry about,’’ Liu Ruisheng, a deputy researcher at CASS, was quoted saying in the Global Times.

Facebook and Twitter were blocked across the mainland in July 2009, after China’s worst ethnic unrest since decades erupted in the northwest province of Xinjiang.

The Internet was recently partially resumed in Xinjiang after nearly a year’s gap. The CASS researcher cited the anti-China content posted online during the Xinjiang riots to emphasise his point that ‘all online platforms have a dual political function’.

In the name of maintaining domestic stability, this online community is controlled and supervised by a sophisticated Internet surveillance system that blocks content the government considers politically sensitive, illegal or pornographic, including YouTube.


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