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Ethical-moral Limits of Public Communication – Neglected Dimension Within the Discourse on Internet Censorship in China


  • Karsten Giese
  • Constanze Müller


Western discourses on the Chinese Internet are often dominated by the narrow perspective of criticizing politically motivated censorship and persecution. Public discourses in China for example on possibilities and limits of the individual freedom of speech in weblogs, however, show that this understanding does not necessarily correspond with the social and political reality as perceived by the Chinese themselves. In this article the authors explore the recent Chinese discussions on regulating free speech online, which refer to safeguarding personality rights and ethical categories rather than to political considerations and state censorship. Based on the media coverage of a case of defamation in a weblog the authors conclude that Chinese public opinion as mirrored by state-controlled online media clearly favour free speech with self-restraint based on common ethical norms and self-regulation. Although no clear understanding of these norms seems to exist yet, both unrestraint articulation and censorship are disapproved. The state is only called upon for assistance in ethical education and cautious control, if self-regulation fails.

Suggested Citation

  • Karsten Giese & Constanze Müller, 2007. "Ethical-moral Limits of Public Communication – Neglected Dimension Within the Discourse on Internet Censorship in China," Journal of Current Chinese Affairs - China aktuell, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 36(4), pages 74-95.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:chaktu:v:36:y:2007:i:4:p:74-95

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