TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: China Denies Internet Controls Lead to Arrests

China Denies Internet Controls Lead to Arrests

Reuters News Wire (
Tue, 14 Feb 2006 23:00:35 -0600

Chinese people can freely access the Internet and the government has
never arrested anyone for expressing an opinion on the Web, an
official state newspaper said on Wednesday. Chinese regulations were
also in line with international practices and no different from rules
in other countries like the United States which seek to block sites
with harmful content, the China Daily said, quoting a senior Internet
watchdog official.

"No one in China has been arrested simply because he or she said
something on the Internet," Liu Zhengrong, vice head of the Internet
Affairs Bureau of the State Council Information Office, was quoted as

Several U.S. tech companies that operate in China have faced criticism
in recent months for helping China enforce censorship laws and track
down government critics who communicate online.

Microsoft Corp. pulled the Web log, or blog, of a critic of the
Chinese government after getting a government order to do so, and
Yahoo Inc. has been criticized for helping Chinese authorities link
journalist Shi Tao to a U.S.-based Web site, leading to a 10-year
prison sentence for Shi.

Liu defended China's record.

"After studying Internet legislation in the West, I've found we
basically have identical legislative objectives and principles," he

"Companies, including Internet firms, that provide services in China
must observe Chinese statutes," he added. "Global companies should
know how to provide lawful services ... It is their own business when
it comes to specific methods and approaches."

Liu said China blocked only "a very few" foreign sites which have
pornographic or terrorist-linked content, or have other information
that is in violation of Chinese law.

Google Inc.'s Chinese search engine, for example, blocks many terms
associated with topics related to democracy or independence for Tibet,
part of China, and Taiwan, a self-ruled island which China considers
its own.

China encouraged people to report Web sites that contain "harmful
information," Liu said, just as in countries such as Britain.

The government had imposed "lenient" penalties on sites that carry
harmful or illegal information, and no Web sites had been shut down
for abusing those rules, he added.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had set up a task force
to help U.S. technology companies protect freedom of expression in
countries like China that censor online content.

But some U.S. sites, like those of Yahoo, also imposed controls on
what can be said online, Liu said.

"It is unfair and smacks of double standards when (they) criticize
China for deleting illegal and harmful messages while it is legal for
U.S. Web sites (to do so)," he said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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