China says Internet censorship accusations "˜groundless'

09 Nov 2006

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) The Chinese government said that accusations by a press freedom group that it was one of the worst culprits of systematic online censorship were 'groundless' and that its citizens could freely access the Internet.

China was one of 13 countries singled out by Reporters Without Borders in a 24-hour online protest against Internet censorship.

The others were: Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

'We find these accusations groundless,' said an officer at the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson's office who declined to be named according to department policy.

'The Chinese enjoy free access to the Internet and they can have the information they need. Currently, the information the Chinese people get is far more than before the introduction of the Internet in this country.'

China has the world's second-largest population of Internet users after the US, with more than 123 million people online.

Though the communist government promotes Internet use, it has also set up an extensive surveillance and filtering system to prevent Chinese from accessing material considered obscene or politically subversive.

The government said its management of the Internet complied with international standards.

'As in other countries, the Internet is managed according to international standards, the law, and the self-management of Internet service providers,' the Foreign Ministry duty officer said.

But Reporters Without Borders said in its annual report that out of 61 people worldwide who have been imprisoned for posting what the respective countries claimed was 'subversive' content, 52 were in China.

© 2006 The Associated Press

© 2006 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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