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U.S. - China Internet Concerns

People use computers at an internet cafe in China. (file)
People use computers at an internet cafe in China. (file)

The United States remains concerned with the widespread censorship and surveillance on the Internet.

The United States, said U.S. Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Robert Hormats, is increasingly concerned about the lack of progress with respect to U.S.-China Internet cooperation.

An important issue for the U.S. government and industry is the continued support of international technical standards, which would make online commerce less costly for industry and consumers.

Another serious and long-standing issue with regard to China is the protection of intellectual property rights. It is critically important for innovators and inventors to know their intellectual property is protected and their rights are enforced. The U.S. International Trade Commission reported that intellectual property infringement, including online, was negatively affecting high-technology foreign direct investment into China.

Cyber security is a growing concern. Man-made threats to online activity are increasing in number, sophistication, and gravity. It is in the interest of both the United States and China to ensure that these threat actors are not able to launch cyber attacks from either country. Nations need to work together to improve the security and integrity of information technologies. "The United States and China," said Under Secretary Hormats, "still have far to go to build confidence and eliminate threats to cyber security."

With regard to Internet freedom, said Under Secretary Hormats, "each government, company, and non-governmental organization has a role to play to ensure the Internet remains a space that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms, while at the same time preserves security, confidentiality, and tolerance." In the case of China, the United States remains concerned with the widespread censorship and surveillance on the Internet. Many websites are blocked, e-mails and communications are monitored, and certain content is immediately flagged for deletion. Indeed, Internet restrictions in China appear to have worsened over the last year, creating serious human rights concerns. "The rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association are protected in a body of well-established domestic and international law," said Under Secretary Hormats, "and they apply online just as they do offline."

The United States and China still have much work to do to create a balanced, rules-based economic relationship. By promoting international standards, ensuring intellectual property protection, protecting cyber security, and advancing Internet freedom, the United States and China will promote a free exchange of ideas and commerce in the digital age.