Iceland sent a representative to the world Internet conference in Wuzhen 乌镇 near Shanghai a few days ago, an event meant to advance the Chinese government’s views on ‘internet sovereignty‘. Xi Jinping’s opening speech, which included such phrases as “freedom is what order is meant for”, received what the People’s Daily calls “high praise” from foreign attendees including an Icelandic embassy official. Iceland was not the only country to send embassy staff to the event, but theirs is the only Western official I’ve seen quoted in state media reports on it.
The comments came from Ragnar Baldursson, minister-counsellor at the Icelandic embassy in Beijing. Ragnar is an old China hand who studied in China in the 1970s and has been working at the embassy for two decades.
Although spun by state media into something of an endorsement, Ragnar’s actual comments don’t specifically praise Chinese internet policy but simply highlight the increasing importance of the Chinese internet.