The Chinese government has defended its extensive internet censorship, claiming it is necessary for state security.
But the paper said that “citizens are not allowed to infringe upon state, social and collective interests or the legitimate freedom and rights of other citizens.”
“No organization or individual may utilize telecommunication networks to engage in activities that jeopardize state security, the public interest or the legitimate rights and interests of other people.”
The paper, issued by the State Council Information Office (SCIO), quoted a survey that found that 60% of netizens have a positive view of “the internet's role in supervision” of the government.
It did not offer any statistics about the views of citizens on the censorship system, known derisively as the “GFW”, or Great Firewall.
Echoing the Chinese constitution, the white paper says Chinese citizens “fully enjoy freedom of speech on the internet.”
The free speech NGO, Reporters Without Borders, ranks China 168th out of 175 countries in its press freedom index.
China is one of the few countries that completely blocks popular sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
It also heavily censors search engines on sensitive issues such as Tiananmen, Tibet, the private lives of party leaders and other topics.
A dozen party and state agencies are actively involved in monitoring and censoring internet content, including the SCIO, the Communist Party Propaganda Department, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) and the Ministry of Public Security.
China’s internet populated reached 384 million by the end of 2009, and the government aimed to make the net available to 45% of its 1.3 billion population in the coming five years, the paper said.