Web-freedom call refuted

08:56, January 25, 2010      

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Chinese experts say a recent aggressive stance by the US over the Google dispute was part of an orchestrated plan with covert political intentions.
The latest wrangling comes after Google's claim that it was hit with cyber attacks originating in China. US trade authorities are reportedly seeking to further heighten pressure on China's censorship policy by invoking WTO treaties.

A US-based free-speech group, the First Amendment Coalition, has petitioned US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk, Obama's top trade official, to challenge China's implementation of censorship, saying it violates trade regulations, AFP reported over the weekend.

USTR spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh emphasized that "this is an issue of broad concern to the administration going far beyond the USTR," but she did not elaborate on the corresponding counteraction should China brush aside US requests for an examination into Google's claim of cyber hacking.

"The administration awaits China's response to our concerns," he said.

China now faces a dilemma to either open its huge market with its online users number-ing approximately 400 million, or be subjected to retaliatory tariffs, according to AFP.

The Obama administration promptly moved to Google's defense after the Internet giant cried foul nearly two weeks ago of cyber attacks and threatened to withdraw from China.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chastised China on its censorship in her Thursday address on Internet freedom and pressured Beijing for "an explanation."

However, a column by Bruce Nussbaum on the Businessweek.com site on Friday noted that the US government's stance is "seriously flawed" when applied to China and Google in China. He used the censoring of Tibetan independence information as an example.

"I did take away the conclusion that for nearly all Chinese, Tibet and Taiwan are as much a part of China as Hawaii and New Mexico are of the US. Government censorship of individuals and groups calling for Tibetan independence is widely applauded, not criticized," he wrote.

British newspaper The Guardian has made similar points.

"For a Western audience, Hillary Clinton's speech about Internet freedom and the need to counter hacking was entirely welcome. For China, it amounted to 'information imperialism,'" a commentary in The Guardian said Saturday.

"The gulf between the two sides is enormous, built on different value systems and different political regimes," it said.

Google is still blocking certain content in other countries at the demand of their governments, an article published on forbes.com reported Thursday.

In India, Google has also removed content from the Indian version of its social networking site, Orkut, that was deemed by the government to be politically incendiary, Forbes said.

In France and Germany, Google blocks search results for extremist groups such as the neo-Nazi group Stormfront and the Holocaust denial association AAARGH, the article said.

In Turkey, Google has kowtowed to Turkish government demands that it block a handful of YouTube videos that portray Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the revered founder of the country, as a homosexual, Forbes said.

China's foreign ministry rejected US criticism and urged "the United States to respect the facts and cease using so-called Internet freedom to make groundless accusations," according to spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

President Barack Obama, "troubled by the cyber-security breach," backed Clinton and wants "some answers" from China, White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton said Friday.

While China's authorities sought to downplay the spat in a bid not to deteriorate Sino-US ties – already strained by disputes on trade, currency and arms sales to Taiwan – Clinton urged other major US technology enterprises to join in the campaign of free-flowing information and said the State Department was expected to hold a high-level meeting next month with companies that provide network services.

"We will continue to have meetings, and we will continue to press this issue aggressively," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

"The Google issue is essentially a US government-initiated strategy with covert political intentions," Yan Xuetong, the president of the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.

"As the global landscape is undergoing profound irreversible shifts, the calculated free-Internet scheme is just one step of a US tactic to preserve its hegemonic domination," Yang said. "A succession of intensive attacks was or-chestrated by the US in a short span of one month in multiple dimensions en-compassing carbon politics, military industry and cyber security, which reflect its subtle adjustment of strategies.

"The Chinese government, in response to the US' high-profile escalation of the conflict, should restrain from adopting retaliatory measures and devise sound measures in response."

In a separate report, the "unrivaled ties" connecting the Internet giant with the Obama administration were revealed in an article, "Googling Obama's China policy," posted on Politico, a US-based website applauded for its analysis of major political issues.

"The $30 billion company has worked assiduously over the last few years to build Washington clout, and has earned a special place in Obama's world," the article claimed, adding that the State De-partment was "quick-footed and assertive in embracing Google."

The Internet could be used for raising funds for kids in disaster areas, as well as being used for terrorist activities, according to an editorial in the Beijing News on Saturday.

The Internet could be a big hand that pushes national social and economic development, as well as a cradle for porn, gambling and drugs, the editorial said.

Some people politicize the Internet issue and make it more complicated than it actually is, while others accuse and interfere in the affairs of other countries in the name of human rights, it said.

And now, through the "Internet freedom," they try to influence and intervene in the world according to their own ideas, without considering the other country's situation, which is unrealistic and should not be accepted, it added.

Zhou Yonglin, deputy director of the operations department of the National Computer Network Emergency Response Team noted in an interview with Xinhua Thursday that, as the specialist institution on surveillance, CNCERT "has not been alerted to any specific report on the issue submitted by Google."

China has become the biggest victim of cyber attacks, according to Zhou.

The lack of Internet security awareness, compounded by flawed procedures, renders China a vulnerable target to hackers, and the country is confronting complex Internet security issues.

The openness of the Internet enables hackers to launch attacks without being confined to borders. A person who has technical knowledge should know that an IP address in China does not guarantee that the attack originated in China.

86 percent of the 20,000 respondents to a poll at huanqiu.com claimed they do not believe that the purpose of the US government was to help promote the Internet's development in China.

Source: Global Times
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