• Experts say digital products for children have weaker online security.

Experts say digital products for children have weaker online security. (Photo : Reuters)

In accordance with previous announcements, Beijing's Cyberspace Administration of China will implement the real-name regulation for all users of online information-exchange services, including micro-blogs, instant messaging services and online forums, from March 1 onward.

Not only has the measure been used in other national contexts that have managed to avoid the type of free-speech scrutiny that China still contends with, but government authorities have made it clear that the democratic rights of its citizens are not being placed on the chopping block.

Like Us on Facebook

What should also be clear to both China's citizens and the rest of the world is Beijing's stance on cybercrime, from the foreign minister's denouncement of the Islamic State's use of online platforms for terrorist purposes last year, to the foreign ministry representative's press-conference statement on Tuesday:

"The stance of the Chinese government on issues relating to cybersecurity is clear and consistent. We are against all forms of cyber attacks and activities creating hostility or confrontation in the cyber space."

The key challenge for President Xi Jinping's government is the balancing act involving the protection of free speech on the one hand, and the minimization of harms in the cyberspace realm on the other.

As the Global Times's Liu Zhun accurately pointed out on Wednesday, the former can impede upon the latter, as was seen during the course of China's anti-graft campaign. The writer refers to the spread of online rumors that unfairly created problems within people's lives.

Furthermore, the administration is aware that the enforcement of real names is not the "magic bullet" for the protection of cyberspace, and it also understands both the utility and shortcomings of the measure. Thanks to the experience of the Republic of Korea, cybersecurity officials are prepared to revise the new regulation at some time in the future; but they also realize that such a trial-and-error process is necessary in the field they are working in.

This is not the time to pounce upon the Chinese authorities in a knee-jerk fashion, but rather an occasion to inform oneself as much as possible on the salient issues. There is more to come and knowledge is still powerful.