China’s decision to block web content it deems inappropriate or harmful has come under renewed U.S. scrutiny this week. According to Reuters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu shirked off criticism that American sites were being treated unfairly. Instead, she framed the country’s stance as fair and helpful to citizens.
“In terms of China’s lawful Internet management, its purpose is to maintain a good Internet environment and to safeguard public interest. These are in line with internationally accepted practices,” said Yu. “We are willing to work with countries and communicate with them on the development of the Internet and to work together to promote the sound development of the Internet. But we do not accept using the excuse of ‘Internet freedom’ to interfere in other countries’ internal practices.”
The brouhaha began when Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative, produced a massive list of questions directed at the Chinese government.
“The United States is seeking detailed information on the trade impact of Chinese policies that may block U.S. companies’ websites in China, creating commercial barriers that especially hurt America’s small business,” read the office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s information request. “Accordingly, the United States is asking China to provide details that will allow a fuller understanding of the legal and policy rules relevant to the accessibility of commercial websites in China.”
China’s staunch cyber edicts are no joke. Over the summer, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published a study into the government’s web censorship. It found that 1.3 million sites were blocked last year – one of the biggest being Google’s search engine. In 2009, China locked out YouTube. (via TechDirt)