January 22, 2010

Beijing brands US internet imperialist

Friday 22 January
Tom Mellen, Morning Star

China has hit back at Washington's claim that it is restricting freedom of information on the internet, charging that the US is engaging in "information imperialism."

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Beijing to investigate cyber intrusions that led US transnational Google to threaten to pull out of - and challenged it to openly publish its findings.

"Countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century," Ms Clinton declared.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said that the Chinese government "firmly opposes such words and deeds, which were against the facts and would harm the China-US relations."

Mr Ma described internet access in China as "open," pointing out that the country now has 384 million Chinese cyber citizens, with 3.68 million websites and 180 million blogs.

He observed that the country's constitution protects citizens' freedom of speech, but he emphasised that Beijing "administers the internet according to its laws and policies," in "accord with the world's common practice."

State media denounced Ms Clinton's speech as part of a US campaign to impose its values and denigrate other cultures, labelling it "information imperialism."

A Xinhua editorial noted that "control of the internet plays a strategic role for the US."

It said that Washington used the internet to "intercept information, export US values and opinions, support a colour revolution, feed opposition powers and rebels against anti-US governments, interfere with other countries' internal affairs and make proactive attacks on enemies' communication and directing networks."

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