U.S. Trade Officials Say China Web Filter Breaks WTO Rules

From the Wall Street Journal:

Senior U.S. trade officials have called on China to revoke an order for all personal computers in China to be shipped with Web-filtering software, saying the requirement could conflict with China’s obligations under the World Trade Organization.

According to a U.S. government official familiar with the matter, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urged the Chinese government to reverse its decision in joint letters submitted to two Chinese ministries on Wednesday. It was the highest-level U.S. complaint so far against the software rules, due to take effect on July 1, and escalated a dispute over a plan that has already angered free-speech advocates.

A man uses a computer at an Internet cafe in Fuyang, central China’s Anhui province in this Feb. 1, 2009 file photo.
The letters, sent separately to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Commerce, said the Chinese move raises “fundamental questions about regulatory transparency and compliance with a number of WTO rules,” the official said.

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