Freedom With An Asterisk

The Economist reports on “a survey conducted in recent months in 17 countries for BBC World Service” which suggests differences in the way Chinese and Westerners view their freedoms:

But the eye-catching figure is that 76% of respondents in China said they do feel free from government surveillance and monitoring—the highest proportion among the 17 countries polled (Australia came in second with 72%). And 45% of Chinese respondents said the internet was a safe place to express their opinions, more than in most countries polled (France rated worst on this score, at 22%). Another surprise was the proportion of respondents in China—47%—who said their press, which is in fact rigidly censored, is free. This was higher than the result for France (24%), Spain (28%), Germany (39%), America (42%), Australia (42%) and Britain (45%).

[...] Other poll questions reveal less surprising results for China: a higher proportion of Chinese than in any other country—45%—disagreed that the internet gives them more freedom (51% agreed, tied for lowest with Germany); a slim majority of Chinese also do not think of the internet as a safe place to express themselves. Most of the more than 600m people online in China are unaware of the full extent of China’s online monitoring, filtering and censorship, even if many have a sense of it. Still, after a very public and sustained crackdown on social media that has featured arrests for online activism and for the spreading of “rumours”, one might expect more Chinese to feel skittish about their internet. [Source]