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China says Internet censoring matter of security

Date: Monday, 25-January-2010
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By Aileen McCabe
Canwest News Asia Correspondent
January 25, 2010 1:03 PM
 SHANGHAI — The war-of-words over Google's threatened pullout of China continued unabated Monday.

The official website posted an "exclusive" interview with a spokesperson for China's State Council Information Office in which he claimed China has "full justification" to block "online information which incites subversion of state power."

The unnamed spokesperson did not give any examples of what that meant, but it appears to be the explanation for why information about the Dalai Lama and Tibet protesters is routinely blocked on the Internet by the Great Firewall of China, as well as sites that deal with last summer's protest by members of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang and even searches dealing with issues such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

He said this kind of censorship had nothing to do with claims of "restrictions on Internet freedom" in China.

The spokesperson's words were the latest in a flurry of complaints and justifications by Chinese officials and the official Chinese media since Google announced two weeks ago that its system had been attacked by sophisticated hackers, likely from inside China, and that as a result it would cease censoring Chinese Internet searches and consider pulling its search engine out of the world's fastest growing Internet market.

The Chinese rhetoric has increased considerably since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the debate last Thursday, specifically naming China as an Internet censorship culprit.

In a speech the Chinese media is calling hypocritical, Clinton said: "Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world's networks. They've expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent political speech."

Never mentioning Clinton's words, the Information Office spokesperson argued that "different countries have different conditions and realities" and that "China's regulation on the Internet industry is proved to be suitable for China's national conditions."

China considers Tibetans and Uyghurs to be separatists who must be dealt with in order to keep the country intact.

The spokesperson underlined that China firmly opposed any intervention in its domestic affairs "under the pretence of Internet management."

The spokesperson further argued that talk of China restricting the Internet was ludicrous given it has 384 million Internet users, 3.68 million websites and 200 million blogs.

The Global Times newspaper also considered the Chinese "numbers" were stand-alone proof the country was Internet friendly.

"Should any western government accuse China of restricting access to Internet, it is either out of ignorance of the facts or a cold war mentality," it said in an editorial Monday.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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