Calls by members of China's legislature and its top advisory body for the mainland to allow more open access to the internet have increased this year, amid mounting frustration.
During this month's meetings of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – annual events more commonly referred to as the "two sessions" – deputies and delegates criticised the central government's tightening of internet restrictions, despite political sensitivities ahead of a key Communist Party meeting this autumn.
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Two proposals by CPPCC delegates at panel meetings – one which was subsequently censored and another which went unreported on the mainland – have urged the loosening of internet controls and many advisers and lawmakers have spoken out against the restrictions, which have been tightened under President Xi Jinping administration.
They say broad-brush censorship is hobbling economic growth, breakthroughs in science, technology and innovation, the promotion of Chinese art and culture, and exchanges between young mainlanders and young Hongkongers.
The first body to speak up was the China Association for Promoting Democracy, one of eight officially sanctioned non-communist political parties on the mainland. On the opening day of the two sessions, Luo Fuhe, the party's executive vice-chairman and a vice-chairman of the CPPCC, told mainland journalists his party would submit a proposal urging the government to allow easier access to overseas academic websites that were not politically sensitive.