Internet, Google, freedom – they are words at the heart of a spiralling spat between China and the United States.
Things reached a climax with Beijing biting back at US criticism of Chinese web restrictions.
China warned that Washington’s comments could harm bilateral relations.
A govenment spokesman said: “In China, the internet is open but at the same time, subject to Chinese law.
Then came this statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website: “We urge the United States to respect the facts and cease using so-called Internet freedom to make groundless accusations against China.”
It is a clear response to the US Secretary of State’s remarks on Thursday.
“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,” said Hillary Clinton, calling growing internet curbs the modern equivalent of the Berlin Wall. “The US and China have different views on this issue.”
The row erupted earlier this month when internet giant Google threatened to quit China over censorship and cyber spying.
Artist, architect and blogger Ai Weiwei believes China could be isolated from the world if censorship becomes too strict.
“In China nowadays, the most basic rights – normal activities involving information or freedom of speech – are seriously controlled,” he said. “This is making it more and more difficult for the public to get by in this information era.”
Despite extensive public debate of the Google issue, hacking is rarely mentioned in the official media of China – a country in which Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been blocked.