China’s response to Clinton and Gates weighs in on Google

In an editorial in the People’s Daily, Beijing, Wang Xiaoyang criticised the Clinton speech on internet freedom:-

(a) He said the unrest in Iran occurred because of on-line warfare launched by America via Youtube video nd Twitter microblogging; and

(b) questioned whether the Clinton view meant “obscenity and activities promoting terrorism would be allowed on the Net in the United States”.

It has been  reported that US diplomats had sought to reach out to the Chinese public by briefing bloggers in China. Nevertheless, the way ‘the wind is blowing’ may have been indicated in the State Department statement that whilst it recognized that China had a different position with repect to restricting information but the United States believed that the Chinese position was “inconsistent with the information environment and prerequisites of the 21st century”. No mention was made to the right to freedom of expression nor to the universality of that right.

What is required is an initiative: a proposal for an international agreement on freedom of communication and control of the internet by governments. Any such Agreement should be within the framework of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which China has signed. In my view, far too little has been made in the exchanges since the Google announcement of the International Covenant as an expression of international law and of China’s signature to it.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, speaking of internet control in China and the proscription with heavy penalties of free speech, described it as “a complex issue”; “fortunately the Chinese efforts to censor the internet have been very limited”. Mr Gates was reported to have added that “different countries have different rules on censorship, pointing out that Germany forbids pro-Nazi statements which would be protected free speech in the United States”.

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. John,

    Well put.


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