Clinton bluntly condemns China on Internet censorship
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered blunt condemnation of strict Internet censorship in China and pledged to help Chinese citizens jump the 'Great Fire Wall.'
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Blurring lines between commerce and foreign policy?
The Chinese government has sought to cast Google’s threat to withdraw from China unless it can provide uncensored search results as primarily a commercial dispute.
Earlier Thursday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei had sought to depoliticize the conflict, insisting that Google should resolve its problems through legal channels, and that “people should not over-interpret [the incident] and say there is a problem between the Chinese and American governments.”
In her speech, however, Clinton blurred the line between commerce and foreign policy, saying she hoped that “refusal to support politically motivated censorship will become a trademark characteristic of American technology companies. It should be part of our nation’s brand.”
Clinton said she was inviting US companies providing network services to a high level meeting next month “for talks on internet freedom. We hope to work together to address this challenge.”
It is unclear how many US firms, anxious to do business in a market as large as China’s, are likely to follow Google’s lead. Though Yahoo said last week it was “aligned” with its rival, that drew a strong protest from Yahoo’s partner in China, AliBaba. Microsoft has shown no signs of publicly criticizing the Chinese government.
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Clinton’s strong stand is likely to please human rights groups who have complained that the Obama administration has been too soft on China’s rights violations.
Last February, on her first visit to China as secretary of State, she said that “pressing on those issues,” such human rights, “can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crises. We have to have a dialogue that leads to an understanding and cooperation on each of those.”
On Thursday, she baldly accused China, along with other nations, of violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and said Washington would address its differences with Beijing over Internet freedom “candidly and consistently.”
“We cannot stand by while people are separated from our human family by walls of censorship,” she declared. “And we cannot be silent about these issues simply because we cannot hear their cries.”