The Chinese government released a white paper yesterday about the state of the Internet and the government policies toward it. Section III of the document, titled "Guaranteeing Citizens Freedom of Speech on the Internet," emphasizes that free use of the Internet is a vital part of public life today:
The Internet provides unprecedented convenience and a direct channel for the people to exercise their right to know, to participate, to be heard and to oversee, and is playing an increasingly important role in helping the government get to know the people's wishes, meet their needs and safeguard their interests. The Chinese government is determined to unswervingly safeguard the freedom of speech on the Internet enjoyed by Chinese citizens in accordance with the law.
So why can't anybody get into Twitter? Key phrase: "in accordance with the law." Section V , "Protecting Internet Security"—like any carefully crafted user agreement—lays out the exceptions and limitations:
[N]o organization or individual may produce, duplicate, announce or disseminate information having the following contents: being against the cardinal principles set forth in the Constitution; endangering state security, divulging state secrets, subverting state power and jeopardizing national unification; damaging state honor and interests; instigating ethnic hatred or discrimination and jeopardizing ethnic unity; jeopardizing state religious policy, propagating heretical or superstitious ideas; spreading rumors, disrupting social order and stability; disseminating obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, brutality and terror or abetting crime; humiliating or slandering others, trespassing on the lawful rights and interests of others; and other contents forbidden by laws and administrative regulations.