The Google-China fracas gets serious

On Thursday, Hilary Clinton made an extraordinary speech in Washington about Internet freedom in which she set out the “freedom to connect” as a new human right. This really got under the skin of the Beijing regime, as GMSV reports.

This morning, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu basically told the U.S. to butt out. “Regarding comments that contradict facts and harm China-U.S. relations, we are firmly opposed,” he said. “We urge the U.S. side to respect facts and stop using the so-called freedom of the Internet to make unjustified accusations against China. … The Chinese Internet is open and China is the country witnessing the most active development of the Internet.”

The real zingers came in an editorial in the Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, which accused the U.S. of practicing “information imperialism.” “The hard fact that Clinton has failed to highlight in her speech is that bulk of the information flowing from the U.S. and other Western countries is loaded with aggressive rhetoric against those countries that do not follow their lead. … Countries disadvantaged by the unequal and undemocratic information flow have to protect their national interest, and take steps toward this,” the paper said. “Unlike advanced Western countries, Chinese society is still vulnerable to the effect of multifarious information flowing in, especially when it is for creating disorder. Western countries have long indoctrinated non-Western nations on the issue of freedom of speech. It is an aggressive political and diplomatic strategy, rather than a desire for moral values, that has led them to do so.”

As I say, Clinton’s speech is really interesting, and worth reading in full. But, as the old saying goes, fine words butter no parsnips. And as I was reading it I was wondering what the US proposes to do about its technology companies (step up Cisco, for example) which sell China the kit it needs to implement its censorship of the Net.