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China named world's worst abuser of internet freedom again

Photo: Andy Wong / AP

Freedom's House has released its "Freedom on the Net 2017" report. The China section claims that:

  • China was the world's worst abuser of internet freedom for the third consecutive year;
  • The 2016 cybersecurity law mandates real name registration and storage of PRC user data within China;
  • Censorship on WeChat increased and several were detained for comments on WeChat;
  • New rules constrict the space for online news;
  • A crackdown virtual private network (VPN) tools.

Ren Xianliang, deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China criticized the report, per Reuters:

  • "We should not just make the internet fully free, it also needs to be orderly...The United States and Europe also need to deal with these fake news and rumors."

The key point: Chinese officials, some of who have warned for years of "hostile foreign forces" using the internet to subvert China, believe they have found the solution to managing the political risks from the internet while harnessing its economic and technological power. The interference in the U.S. presidential election process by Russia, a "hostile foreign force" to America, only strengthens their resolve.

One interesting fact: The censorship has not hurt wealth creation. Overseas-listed Chinese internet firms have a combined market capitalization of over one trillion dollars, and three of China's richest people are internet moguls.

Jonathan Swan 12 hours ago
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Trump asked Netanyahu if he genuinely cares about peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump at the White House in March. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In a phone call last year with Bibi Netanyahu, President Trump said something that shocked some of the people who helped prepare his briefing materials for the conversations. According to three sources familiar with the call, Trump asked Bibi bluntly if he actually cares about peace or not.

The details: Trump was pressing Bibi on the importance of striking a "deal" for Mideast peace. He'd read news reports about Bibi planning to build additional settlements to please his conservative base in Israel. Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians. So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace.

Jonathan Swan 12 hours ago
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Kellyanne Conway rises — again

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has never actually wanted the job of White House communications director, according to sources who've discussed it with her, but Axios has learned that she left many in the White House communications team this week with the impression that she'd be leading the team in some capacity.

Behind the scenes: Senior White House communications official Mercedes Schlapp convened an off-site team-building and planning retreat last week for the White House comms team. They held the session on Thursday at the General Services Administration building a couple blocks from the WH (the same building that once housed the transition).