Beijing, China – The Chinese government on Friday denounced comments by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accusing the country of censoring internet material. According to the Associated Press, a state run newspaper called Clinton’s remarks as “information imperialism.”
In a statement, Ma Zhaoxu, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, “The US has criticized China’s policies to administer the internet, and insinuated that China restricts internet freedom,” and added, “This runs contrary to the facts and is harmful to China-US relations.” Furthermore, according to BBC News, he stated that the United States should “respect the facts” and cease making “groundless accusations against China.”
On Thursday Clinton gave a speech which condemned China for restricting internet freedom, and called for the country to allow a free exchange of internet material. She also accused that cyber-attacks and intrusions were being launched out of China and called for the Chinese government to investigate. Such attacks, targeted at attempting to find private information on human rights activists in China, have caused the internet giant Google to threaten to completely pull out of China.
Calling the internet a “source of tremendous progress” for China, Clinton also stated that the Chinese government was “walling themselves off from the progress of the next century” by limiting free flow of information within the internet.
She also stated to private companies operating around the globe, “The private sector has a shared responsibility to safeguard free expression… this needs to be part of our national brand.”
“Censorship should not be accepted by any company.”
Tech companies have embraced this message. Jill Hazelbaker of Google stated, “At Google we are obviously great believers in the value to society of unfettered access to information.”
In addition to China, Secretary Clinton also named other countries such as Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam as having “a spike in threats to the free flow of information.”
In regard to Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks, Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy and Technology told BBC News, “Her call for corporate responsibility will reverberate around the technology industry.” She continued, “The question of how they chart an ethical path when operating in these difficult markets has been on the front burner of policy debate for close to five years.”
“Secretary Clinton has thrown down the gauntlet and companies are going to have to respond.”
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Copyright © 2009 by Raymond Gellner