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China Tightening Restrictions On Foreign Internet Forces

May 3, 2010

Chinese officials have vowed to crack down on the online presence of foreign nations as the country’s Communist government looked to tighten its already strict control of the Internet, according to various media reports published Monday.

In a May 3 article, reporters from the Associated Press (AP) write, “The move is part of efforts to step up a crackdown on online smut, gambling, fraud and other offenses, said Wang Chen, chief of the Cabinet’s Information Office, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.”

More than 400 million people in China use the Internet regularly–far more than anywhere else in the world–but the government in the Asian nation actively blocks content it considers harmful or subversive, including pornography but also including the websites of human rights organizations, political activists, and some members of the news media.

“We will strengthen the blocking of harmful information from outside China to prevent harmful information from being disseminated in China and withstand online penetration by overseas hostile forces,” Wang told Xinhua, according to the AP story.

The filtering policies of Beijing officials was at the heart of Google’s decision to shut down their mainland China search engine and begin re-directing users to an uncensored Hong Kong website.

“We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement,” Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond announced on the company’s blog on March 22.

“We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced–it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China,” he added. “We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision.”

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