Climbdown: China puts Green Dam on hold

Robert Clark
01 Jul 2009

The Chinese government has backed down on its controversial Green Dam web filtering scheme.

The plan, which required all mainland computers to ship with the web filtering application, was due to come into effect from today.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) last night put the proposal on hold, saying PC vendors needed more time, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"[S]ome computer producers said such a massive installation demanded extra time," the ministry said in a statement issued at 8pm.

It did not say when the scheme would be resurrected.

The climbdown comes after lobbying from the US government and foreign PC-makers, who took the rare step of writing a letter to the Premier, Wen Jiabao, asking him to call it off.

The US Trade Representative and the Secretary of Commerce wrote to their Chinese counterparts, warning that the scheme could be in breach of WTO rules.

Mainland internet users and bloggers were also furious at the proposal, which they suspected would be used to collect their personal information.

Ai Weiwei, a well-known architect and activist, said the decision was "the correct thing to do because at least this time the authorities have listened to the protesting voices," reported.

Despite the backdown he still called for an internet "boycott" today to protest the scheme.

PC vendors Toshiba and Taiwan-owned Acer said they were ready to ship the software from today, said. US companies HP and Dell declined to comment.

The MIIT said it would continue to offer free downloads of the software and equip school and internet cafes.

It would also "keep on soliciting opinions to perfect the pre-installation plan," it added.

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