Clinton urges China to investigate China case

Click to follow
The Independent Online

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today urged China to investigate cyber intrusions that led search engine Google to threaten to pull out of that country - and challenged Beijing to openly publish its findings.

"Countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century," she said, adding that the U.S. and China "have different views on this issue, and we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently."



She cited China as among a number of countries where there has been "a spike in threats to the free flow of information" over the past year. She also named Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Egypt and Vietnam.



Clinton made her remarks in a wide-ranging speech about Internet freedom and its place in U.S. foreign policy.



"Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world's networks," she said.



"They have expunged words, names and phrases from search engine results," Clinton said. "They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in nonviolent political speech."



State Department officials have said they intend soon to lodge a formal complaint with Chinese officials over the Google matter, which a senior Chinese government official said Thursday should not affect U.S.-China relations.



Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said in Beijing, "The Google case should not be linked with relations between the two governments and countries; otherwise, it's an over-interpretation," according to the official Xinhua News Agency.



The Xinhua report did not mention censorship, instead referring to Google's "disagreements with government policies."



In a passage of her speech before she explicitly mentioned the Google matter, Clinton spoke broadly about the connection between information freedom and international business.



"Countries that censor news and information must recognize that, from an economic standpoint, there is no distinction between censoring political speech and commercial speech," she said. "If businesses in your nation are denied access to either type of information, it will inevitably reduce growth."



"Increasingly, U.S. companies are making the issue of information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions," she added. "I hope that their competitors and foreign governments will pay close attention to this trend."



She then raised the Google case.



"We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make its announcement," she said, referring to Google's recent statement that it is reconsidering its business operations in China. "We also look for that investigation and its results to be transparent."