Okay. All right? Jon -- I'm going to call on my Ambassador because I think he has a question that was generated through the Web site of our embassy. This was selected, though, by I think one of the members of our U.S. press corps so that --
AMBASSADOR HUNTSMAN: That's right. And not surprisingly, "in a country with 350 million Internet users and 60 million bloggers, do you know of the firewall?" And second, "should we be able to use Twitter freely" -- is the question.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter. I noticed that young people -- they're very busy with all these electronics. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone. But I am a big believer in technology and I'm a big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.
And so I've always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I'm a big supporter of non-censorship. This is part of the tradition of the United States that I discussed before, and I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet -- or unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.
Now, I should tell you, I should be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn't flow so freely because then I wouldn't have to listen to people criticizing me all the time. I think people naturally are -- when they're in positions of power sometimes thinks, oh, how could that person say that about me, or that's irresponsible, or -- but the truth is that because in the United States information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear. It forces me to examine what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis to see, am I really doing the very best that I could be doing for the people of the United States.
And I think the Internet has become an even more powerful tool for that kind of citizen participation. In fact, one of the reasons that I won the presidency was because we were able to mobilize young people like yourself to get involved through the Internet. Initially, nobody thought we could win because we didn't have necessarily the most wealthy supporters; we didn't have the most powerful political brokers. But through the Internet, people became excited about our campaign and they started to organize and meet and set up campaign activities and events and rallies. And it really ended up creating the kind of bottom-up movement that allowed us to do very well.
Now, that's not just true in -- for government and politics. It's also true for business. You think about a company like Google that only 20 years ago was -- less than 20 years ago was the idea of a couple of people not much older than you. It was a science project. And suddenly because of the Internet, they were able to create an industry that has revolutionized commerce all around the world. So if it had not been for the freedom and the openness that the Internet allows, Google wouldn't exist.
So I'm a big supporter of not restricting Internet use, Internet access, other information technologies like Twitter. The more open we are, the more we can communicate. And it also helps to draw the world together.
Think about -- when I think about my daughters, Malia and Sasha -- one is 11, one is 8 -- from their room, they can get on the Internet and they can travel to Shanghai. They can go anyplace in the world and they can learn about anything they want to learn about. And that's just an enormous power that they have. And that helps, I think, promote the kind of understanding that we talked about.
Now, as I said before, there's always a downside to technology. It also means that terrorists are able to organize on the Internet in ways that they might not have been able to do before. Extremists can mobilize. And so there's some price that you pay for openness, there's no denying that. But I think that the good outweighs the bad so much that it's better to maintain that openness. And that's part of why I'm so glad that the Internet was part of this forum. Okay?
I'm going to take two more questions. And the next one is from a gentleman, I think. Right here, yes. Here's the microphone.
Q First, I would like to say that it is a great honor for me to stand here to ask you the questions. I think I am so lucky and just appreciate that your speech is so clear that I really do not need such kind of headset. (Laughter.)
And here comes my question. My name is (inaudible) from Fudan University School of Management. And I would like to ask you the question -- is that now that someone has asked you something about the Nobel Peace Prize, but I will not ask you in the same aspect. I want to ask you in the other aspect that since it is very hard for you to get such kind of an honorable prize, and I wonder and we all wonder that -- how you struggled to get it. And what's your university/college education that brings you to get such kind of prizes? We are very curious about it and we would like to invite you to share with us your campus education experiences so as to go on the road of success.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me tell you that I don't know if there's a curriculum or course of study that leads you to win the Nobel Peace Prize. (Laughter.) So I can't guarantee that. But I think the recipe for success is the one that you are already following. Obviously all of you are working very hard, you're studying very hard. You're curious. You're willing to think about new ideas and think for yourself. You know, the people who I meet now that I find most inspiring who are successful I think are people who are not only willing to work very hard but are constantly trying to improve themselves and to think in new ways, and not just accept the conventional wisdom.
Obviously there are many different paths to success, and some of you are going to be going into government service; some of you might want to be teachers or professors; some of you might want to be businesspeople. But I think that whatever field you go into, if you're constantly trying to improve and never satisfied with not having done your best, and constantly asking new questions -- "Are there things that I could be doing differently? Are there new approaches to problems that nobody has thought of before, whether it's in science or technology or in the arts? -- those are usually the people who I think are able to rise about the rest.
The one last piece of advice, though, that I would have that has been useful for me is the people who I admire the most and are most successful, they're not just thinking only about themselves but they're also thinking about something larger than themselves. So they want to make a contribution to society. They want to make a contribution to their country, their nation, their city. They are interested in having an impact beyond their own immediate lives.
I think so many of us, we get caught up with wanting to make money for ourselves and have a nice car and have a nice house and -- all those things are important, but the people who really make their mark on the world is because they have a bigger ambition. They say, how can I help feed hungry people? Or, how can I help to teach children who don't have an education? Or, how can I bring about peaceful resolution of conflicts? Those are the people I think who end up making such a big difference in the world. And I'm sure that young people like you are going to be able to make that kind of difference as long as you keep working the way you've been working.
All right? All right, this is going to be the last question, unfortunately. We've run out of time so quickly. Our last Internet question, because I want to make sure that we got all three of our fine students here.
Q Mr. President, it's a great honor for the last question. And I'm a college student from Fudan University, and today I'm also the representative of China's Youth (inaudible.) And this question I think is from Beijing: Paid great attention to your Afghanistan policies, and he would like to know whether terrorism is still the greatest security concern for the United States? And how do you assess the military actions in Afghanistan, or whether it will turn into another Iraqi war? Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that's an excellent question. Well, first of all, I do continue to believe that the greatest threat to United States' security are the terrorist networks like al Qaeda. And the reason is, is because even though they are small in number, what they have shown is, is that they have no conscience when it comes to the destruction of innocent civilians. And because of technology today, if an organization like that got a weapon of mass destruction on its hands -- a nuclear or a chemical or a biological weapon -- and they used it in a city, whether it's in Shanghai or New York, just a few individuals could potentially kill tens of thousands of people, maybe hundreds of thousands. So it really does pose an extraordinary threat.
Now, the reason we originally went into Afghanistan was because al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, being hosted by the Taliban. They have now moved over the border of Afghanistan and they are in Pakistan now, but they continue to have networks with other extremist organizations in that region. And I do believe that it is important for us to stabilize Afghanistan so that the people of Afghanistan can protect themselves, but they can also be a partner in reducing the power of these extremist networks.
Now, obviously it is a very difficult thing -- one of the hardest things about my job is ordering young men and women into the battlefield. I often have to meet with the mothers and fathers of the fallen, those who do not come home. And it is a great weight on me. It gives me a heavy heart.
Fortunately, our Armed Services is -- the young men and women who participate, they believe so strongly in their service to their country that they are willing to go. And I think that it is possible -- working in a broader coalition with our allies in NATO and others that are contributing like Australia -- to help train the Afghans so that they have a functioning government, that they have their own security forces, and then slowly we can begin to pull our troops out because there's no longer that vacuum that existed after the Taliban left.
But it's a difficult task. It's not easy. And ultimately I think in trying to defeat these terrorist extremists, it's important to understand it's not just a military exercise. We also have to think about what motivates young people to become terrorists, why would they become suicide bombers. And although there are obviously a lot of different reasons, including I think the perversion of religion, in thinking that somehow these kinds of violent acts are appropriate, part of what's happened in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan is these young people have no education, they have no opportunities, and so they see no way for them to move forward in life, and that leads them into thinking that this is their only option.
And so part of what we want to do in Afghanistan is to find ways that we can train teachers and create schools and improve agriculture so that people have a greater sense of hope. That won't change the ideas of a Osama bin Laden who are very ideologically fixed on trying to strike at the West, but it will change the pool of young people who they can recruit from. And that is at least as important, if not more important over time, as whatever military actions that we can take. Okay?
All right, I have had a wonderful time. I am so grateful to all of you. First of all, let me say I'm very impressed with all of your English. Clearly you've been studying very hard. And having a chance to meet with all of you I think has given me great hope for the future of U.S.-China relations.
I hope that many of you have the opportunity to come and travel and visit the United States. You will be welcome. I think you will find that the American people feel very warmly towards the people of China. And I am very confident that, with young people like yourselves and the young people that I know in the United States, that our two great countries will continue to prosper and help to bring about a more peaceful and secure world.
So thank you very much everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
2:08 P.M. CST