DA concern over SA, China Internet talks - TechCentral

DA concern over SA, China Internet talks


The opposition Democratic Alliance has raised concerns about a meeting taking place this weekend in Durban between officials of the South African and Chinese governments on Internet issues.

DA MP Marian Shinn said on Thursday that she has written to deputy telecommunications & postal services minister Hlengiwe Mkhize requesting that she release both the agenda and the outcomes of the talks, which will be held behind closed doors.

Shinn said Mkhize and a South African delegation are set to meet China’s vice minister of cyberspace administration, Xiujun Wang, with the meeting following a roundtable discussion on Internet issues between the Chinese government and business representatives, as well as their South African counterparts, taking at the Hilton Hotel this Friday.

“Invitations have been sent to ICT stakeholder organisations, and the topics to be discussed include e-government, e-commerce and cybersecurity,” Shinn said.

“The DA maintains that the Chinese are an inappropriate source of counsel in terms of the Internet sphere,” she said.

“China has a dubious reputation as being one of the world’s most repressive Internet regimes, clamping down on political opponents, journalists and citizens critical of the government. Added to this, China is also known as an enthusiastic cyberwarfare practitioner.”

Shinn said her concern about the impending talks stems from telecoms minister Siyabonga Cwele’s “refusal” to name the South African and Chinese government representatives who signed an ICT co-operation past last year.

“What is suspicious is that the invitation to this week’s event reminds invitees of an agreement to work on cybersecurity,” she said.

“A copy of that agreement, secured via a Public Access to Information Act application, censored the names and signatures of the signatories. Repeated requests for the names to be revealed have been denied for ‘security’ reasons.

“This obsessive secrecy rings alarm bells about what restrictive actions our ANC-led government plans for Internet-based communication as its electoral prospects are severely diminished in the upcoming local government elections,” Shinn said.  — © 2016 NewsCentral Media


  1. Which “business representatives” and “stakeholder organisations” were invited and how were they selected ?

  2. Ofentse Letsholo on

    Yaaaa nehhh, as much as China and SA have a good relationship on the internet side we just don’t want to touch China but I guess the “guilty ones” are the ones pushing this.

  3. Eric Martinsich on

    s it always ok when we talk about internet services with the western world its ok but not with China etc.

  4. South Africa is one of only 7 countries worldwide that have completely unrestricted internet access. China on the other hand has one of the most restrictive internet policies. The question is not whether we talking to the west is acceptable but talking to the east is not but rather should we be having closed door discussion with highly repressive regimes on matter that concern freedom? Freedom of expression, association, press, knowledge.

    I most certainly don’t want a country like China to inform any policy on the internet or press or anything that might impact my constitutional freedom rights.

  5. Eric Martinsich on

    Having talks is obtaining information not necessary agreeing. once the Government has all the necessary information this is normally laid in from of Parliament Communication group for discussions. right now its talks.

  6. Eric,

    The only way we know what the politicians are up to is through transparency. The Chinese hate transparency and try to control every aspect of their populous movements and intellectual insight. Remember that you can’t even question the political regime in China without the threat of jail or worse death.

    We do not choose sides here but our constitutional democracy is in direct contrast to the Chinese effective communist centrally controlled model.

    Be well,

  7. William Stucke on

    Oh, and it’s “Internet”, not “internet”. There is only one. It’s proper noun 😉

  8. Minister Faith Muthambi went to China last year to “learn” how the Chinese authorities deal with the media.

    It all clearly shows which way we are heading under JGZ and Faith. A totalitarian state with enormous state control of the media.