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9/12/04 - CHINA’S INTERNET FIREWALL - 2004-09-10

For years, the Chinese government has tried to jam radio transmissions of the Voice of America and other international broadcasters. The Chinese government seeks to deny the Chinese people uncensored news and information, whether from inside the country or from other parts of the world. More recently, the Chinese government has tried to control access to the Internet, which is used by as many as one-hundred million people in China.

This is done in a variety of ways. One is by outright blocking of web sites. At a cost of millions of dollars, the Chinese government blocks thousands of international web sites, including that of the Voice of America.

In addition, tens of thousands of Chinese Internet police use a filtering technology to prevent Chinese from using such search engines as Google to access government-blocked web sites. And according to one study, Chinese companies have embedded special software in computers to look for about one-thousand taboo words or phrases. These include “democracy,” “human rights,” “multiparty,” “Christian,” “Falun Gong,” “oppose corruption,” and “Tiananmen.”

U.S. Justice Department official Matthew Berry has this to say about such practices: “They wish to either deny citizens Internet access, or strictly filter the sites which their citizens may visit. We think that’s a fundamental mistake, and that the Internet should be open to all viewpoints.”

The Internet has made the free flow of information amazingly efficient. It promotes the right of freedom of expression. In China, as in every country, access to the Internet should be encouraged, not hindered.