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Promoting Democracy and Human Rights

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 6:18 pm on 13th October 2008.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs) 6:18 pm, 13th October 2008

I think it says that China is determined to put huge resources into trying to control the internet. I understand that it has 50,000 individuals shutting down internet sites, but I do not believe that that will be sustainable in the long run. One of the wonders and joys of the internet is that it will be a great vehicle for improving democracy and showing people that things are different in the world outside, and that they, too, could and should have human rights.

I was on holiday this year in Cuba, where the situation is similar. A foreigner is allowed to use the internet, but its use is greatly restricted for locals. Even foreigners have internet rationing. Cuba does not have the same resources to block sites as China, but following some political news still proved slightly difficult. However, the internet will be a mechanism to promote freedom. China will try to restrict it, but it will be like trying to empty the Atlantic with a teaspoon, or whatever the correct analogy is. It will ultimately not be successful.