'Regulation of Internet in line with world norms'
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-15 06:30
Regulation of China's Internet is fully in line with international practice,
and the country welcomes foreign Web businesses to provide lawful services, a
top cyberspace regulator said yesterday in Beijing.
Liu Zhengrong, deputy chief of the Internet Affairs Bureau of the State
Council Information Office, also said Chinese people can access the Web freely,
except when are blocked from "a very few" foreign websites whose contents mostly
involve pornography or terrorism.
"Regulating the Internet according to law is international practice," Liu
told reporters. "After studying Internet legislation in the West, I've found we
basically have identical legislative objectives and principles."
The Chinese Government has been very "positive" in supporting the Internet
and has enacted only necessary legislation to support its development, he said.
Answering a China Daily question on criticism in some foreign media of
Chinese websites deleting netizens' messages, Liu said it is a common practice
around the world to remove "illegal and harmful" information.
Some leading US websites, including those of Yahoo and The New York Times,
have explicit stipulations when it comes to posting messages in forums, he said.
For example, The New York Times website says: "We reserve the right to
delete, move or edit messages that we deem abusive, defamatory, obscene, in
violation of copyright or trademark laws, or otherwise unacceptable We reserve
the right to remove the posting privileges of users who violate these standards
of Forum behaviour at any time."
Liu said "it is unfair and smacks of double standards when (they) criticize
China for deleting illegal and harmful messages while it is legal for US
websites for doing so."
Asked to comment on the operations of US companies which have invested, or
are involved, in the Chinese Internet market, Liu said China welcomes any
foreign company that provides lawful services in the country.
The US Congress is reportedly scheduled to hold a hearing today about the
performance of Internet giants such as Yahoo and Google in China.
"Companies, including Internet firms, that provide services in China must
observe Chinese statutes," Liu said.
"Global companies should know how to provide lawful services and what they
should do when providing such services. It is their own business when it comes
to specific methods and approaches."
When users are blocked access to some foreign websites, it is usually because
these sites contain information in violation of Chinese law, he explained.
Like in the US, Britain and some other countries, China has
self-administering Internet associations which resolve most Internet-related
issues themselves, he said.
The country has also launched a web-based centre to help the public report on
illegal and harmful information on the Internet. The site functions like the
Internet Watch Foundation in Britain, he said.
Since it was set up in June 2004, the centre has received 235,000 tips from
the public on what they deem "harmful information," he said.
Penalties imposed on websites carrying illegal and harmful information have
been "lenient" in China, Liu said, adding no website has been shut down in the
country for providing a few pieces of such information.
"No one in China has been arrested simply because he or she said something on
the Internet," he said.
Liu said the country's Internet market is huge and open, adding: "I believe
more foreign businesses will benefit from the increasingly attractive market."
Wang Junxiu, co-founder of BlogChina.com, yesterday said there could be
tremendous opportunities for foreign Internet companies in the Chinese market
through partnership with Chinese counterparts.
China has the world's largest population of Web users after the US, with at
least 110 million netizens, he said.
With more than 20,000 people jumping on the Internet bandwagon every day,
China is expected to have 130 million users by the end of this year, said Liu
Zhijiang of the China Internet Network Information Centre.
(China Daily 02/15/2006 page1)