U.S., China exchange jabs on Internet freedom

A day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called out the Chinese government for stepping up its censorship of the Internet, China's foreign ministry fired back.

A day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called out the Chinese government for stepping up its censorship of the Internet, China’s foreign ministry fired back.

During a speech in Washington on Jan. 21, Clinton generally condemned Internet censorship and urged consequences for cyberattacks. In specific, she called on China to investigate recent allegations that a cyberattack against Google’s infrastructure originated in that nation, with a primary goal of accessing Chinese human rights activists' Gmail accounts.

In addition, Clinton said:

“The Internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China, and it is fabulous. There are so many people in China now online. But 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.”

In response, today China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Ma Zhaoxu, shot back in a statement on the ministry’s Web site:

“The U.S. attacks China's Internet policy, indicating that China has been restricting Internet freedom. We resolutely oppose such remarks and practices that contravene facts and undermine China-U.S. relations. China's Internet is open. ... We urge the U.S. to respect facts and stop attacking China under the excuse of the so-called freedom of Internet.”

Meanwhile, more diplomatically, the two sides followed their tough talk with a call to work things out.

In her speech, Clinton said:

“Now, the United States and China have different views on this issue, and we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently in the context of our positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship.”

Meanwhile, Ma said:

“We hope that the U.S. side can work with China to earnestly implement the consensus between leaders of both countries on developing bilateral relationship in the new era by strengthening dialogue, exchanges and cooperation, respecting each other's core interest and major concerns and properly handling differences and sensitive issues so as to ensure the healthy and stable development of China-U.S. relationship.”

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