The President of China, Xi Jinping, sent out mixed messages on April 19th in a speech that was released on Monday. He called for a more “clean” and “righteous” cyberspace, while urging officials to engage with the public for online feedback, suggestions, and “well-meant criticism.”

“For well-meant criticism raised on the Internet, be it aimed at the overall work of the Party and the state, or at individual officials, be it gentle or harsh-sounding, we will not only welcome it, but also study it for future reference,” said Chinese state media outlet Xinhua, paraphrasing Xi’s speech in English.

Xi’s comments come amid heightened censorship that has affected players across the board, from tech companies to human rights advocates. In December 2015, renowned humans right lawyer Zhiqiang Pu was charged with eight years of prison for seven tweets on Chinese social media site Weibo. Last week, iTunes Movies and iBooks were blocked from China’s internet, following new guidelines on publishing content by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) that were enacted on March 10th.

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Eva Xiao

Eva Xiao is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. Contact her at eva.xiao@technode.com or evawxiao (wechat & twitter).