even as Google threatens
to pull out of the Chinese search business completely, shutting
down Google.cn, the U.S.
government has stepped up to the plate challenging China to listen to
the concerns of Google and other firms. U.S. Senator Hillary
Clinton delivered sharp remarks criticizing China's duality of
cyber-lawlessness and harsh censorship of certain materials.
China is responding indignantly to the criticism. A
spokesperson for China's State Council Information Office, the
organization that helps to filter China's internet traffic addressed
the U.S. governments criticism, remarking, "[China] bans using
the Internet to subvert state power and wreck national unity, to
incite ethnic hatred and division, to promote cults and to distribute
content that is pornographic, salacious, violent or terrorist.
China has an ample legal basis for punishing such harmful content,
and there is no room for doubting this. This is completely different
from so-called restriction of Internet freedom."
response aired Monday on China's state run government website,
has an internet population of over
384 million, but it continues to tightly control the content its
users can view, filtering traffic through a system that is dubbed
"The Great Firewall" by U.S. observers. Additionally,
over 120 million users in China access the web from their mobile
devices, adding a new challenge for internet censors.
dispute with the U.S. however, may be a sign of tensions outside the
tech arena boiling over. The U.S. recently announced that it
would be selling modern weapons to Taiwan, a renegade state that
China still insists it owns. U.S. President Barack Obama will
also meet with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, in
coming months. Despite his dogma of pacifism, Chinese officials
call the Dalai Lama a dangerous extremist for promoting Tibetan
Jin Canrong, a professor of international
relations at Renmin University in Beijing, comments, "This year,
we're seeing problems over trade, the Dalai Lama, and U.S. weapons
sales to Taiwan coming to the surface. The politicization and
ideological turn of the Google case could make it more difficult to
work together. The basic need for cooperation, economically and
diplomatically, hasn't changed, but each of these issues could
disrupt cooperation from day to day."
Tibet is one of the
key issues that is chilling relations between the U.S. and China.
Another is signs of censorship and oppression stemming from internet
activity. Late last, year a Chinese blogger and author Liu
Xiabo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for spreading subversive
writings on the internet. China has banned a variety of U.S.
websites including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook in recent
China's government denies that the Google attacks
originated from within Chinese borders. And state-run Chinese
newspapers on Monday blasted
the U.S. as hypocritical. Editorials accused the U.S. of
exploiting video-sharing site YouTube and micro-blogging site Twitter
to drive unrest in Iran. They also point to current and pending
legislation on the U.S. state and national level that would impose
government filters on the internet content that minors can view.
Proclaims one column, "This 'Internet freedom' that is being
promoted everywhere is nothing more than a foreign policy tool, a
fantasy of freedom."