The Privilege of Speech and New Media in China

Date: April 9, 2014 (Wednesday)

Time: 1:30 –2:30 pm

Venue: Room 825, 8/F, Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Speaker: Dr Rogier Creemers, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford

Abstract: Even though freedom of speech is part of China’s Constitution, it has never been consistently and coherently implemented in China. The expansion of Internet and new media in the past decade has brought this to increasing prominence. This begs the question what the organising principle for governing the publication and dissemination of content is. This talk proposes the concept of privileged speech, in which speech is not a presumed entitlement. Rather, its legality depends on a complex framework revolving around the speaker, the channel and the audience. First, this talk will elaborate how different legal, regulatory and other means to shape the space for permitted speech have evolved. Second, it will discuss how the advent of the Internet has upset previous patterns of governance, and how the Party-State responded to this. Initially, existing media governance structures that mainly targeted enterprises were expanded. In recent years, however, there has been a shift towards the creation of tailor-made institutions for Internet governance and increasing liability for individual users.

About the speaker: Dr Rogier Creemers holds Master degrees in Sinology and International Relations, and a Doctorate in Law. Currently, he is a Rubicon Scholar at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford. His main research interest is the law and policy of public communication in China, which includes questions of constitutional law, intellectual property and media control.