Beijing Leaps to Defense of "Great Firewall of China"

The U.S. government has asked the Chinese government to clarify its internet censorship policy. The U.S. claims that China’s censorship may amount to a barrier to trade, thus violating the rules of the World Trade Organization. From AFP:

The United States called on China to explain why it appeared to be blocking websites of US firms, as Washington took the first steps to bring the case to the World Trade Organization.

“US businesses… have expressed concerns regarding the adverse business impacts from periodic disruptions to the availability of their websites in China,” the US Trade Representative said in a statement on Wednesday.

The request was made under world trade rules which require members to provide information about potential barriers to trade.

The nearly 50-question filing asks who is responsible for blocking websites, why and when it takes place.

In response, the Chinese government says it has a right to censorship and that the U.S. government is once again trying to interfere in China’s internal affairs. From Reuters:

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China had actively encouraged the development of the Internet and protected freedom of speech online.

“At the same time, in terms of China’s lawful Internet management, its purpose is to maintain a good Internet environment and to safeguard public interest,” Jiang told reporters. “These are in line with internationally accepted practices.”

“We are willing to work with countries and communicate with them on the development of the Internet and to work together to promote the sound development of the Internet,” she said. “But we do not accept using the excuse of ‘Internet freedom’ to interfere in other countries’ internal practices.”