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China defends Internet freedom policies in response to Clinton speech

[JURIST] Chinese Foreign Ministry [official website, in Chinese] spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu on Friday accused the US [press release] of harming bilateral relations with China after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official website], gave a speech [text] promoting Internet freedom and criticizing censorship. Though she did not overtly attack China, Clinton did critique countries that restrict free access of information, declaring that they "risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century." Clinton also referenced a recent threat by Google [corporate website] to pull out of China [JURIST report], calling on Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of alleged cyber intrusions and make its findings transparent. Zhaoxu reponded:

The US attacks China's internet policy, indicating that China has been restricting internet freedom. We resolutely oppose such remarks and practices that contravene facts and undermine China-US relations.

China's internet is open. China is a country with the most vibrant internet development. By the end of last year, China had 384 million internet users, 3.68 million websites and 180 million blogs. China's Constitution guarantees people's freedom of speech. It is China's consistent policy to promote the development of internet. China has its own national conditions and cultural traditions. It supervises internet according to law, which is in parallel with the international practice.

Hacking in whatever form and offence of others' privacy is prohibited by law in China. As a major victim of hacking in the world, China believes that the international community should intensify the cooperaion in jointly combating internet hacking so as to safeguard internet security and protect the privacy of citizens in accordance with law.

We urge the US to respect facts and stop attacking China under the excuse of the so-called freedom of internet. We hope that the US side can work with China to earnestly implement the consensus between leaders of both countries on developing bilateral relationship in the new era by strengthening dialogue, exchanges and cooperation, respecting each other's core interest and major concerns and properly handling differences and sensitive issues so as to ensure the healthy and stable development of China-US relationship.
Google announced its new policy towards China last week in response to a cyber attack on its Gmail service in December. That attack allegedly targeted the e-mail accounts of human rights activists in China, and drew the ire of rights groups around the world. China responded [JURIST report] by reiterating its commitment to open Internet, but stressed that international Internet companies must follow Chinese law. China's stance on Internet freedom, a source of contention in its relationship with Google, has long been controversial. In June, the Chinese government confirmed that filtering software [JURIST report] that is to be sold with every computer in China did not necessarily have to be activated. That confirmation came only after the policy of pre-packaging the software with new computers was challenged [JURIST report] by human rights lawyer Li Fangping.

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