Clinton Urged to Address Internet Repression in China

Clinton Urged to Address Internet Repression in China

( - Former President Clinton is in China to address an Internet summit amid a new row over Beijing's campaign to control the medium and clamp down on free speech, with the alleged collaboration of Western companies.

Internet giant Yahoo was accused this week of providing information to the Chinese authorities which helped convict and jail a journalist for 10 years (see related story).

The incident came to light shortly before Clinton was due to give a keynote address to major Internet summit in Hangzhou, hosted by Yahoo's partner in China.

The agenda for Saturday's summit includes the future of online gambling, the development of e-commerce, and globalization -- but makes no mention of such issues as censorship, media repression or government control.

The summit host, China's largest e-commerce company, four weeks ago teamed up with Yahoo to form a "strategic partnership" in China. A spokesman confirmed Thursday that Clinton was on schedule to speak.

Human rights campaigners urged the former president to use the opportunity to challenge the Chinese government and Internet companies.

Human Rights in China research director Nicolas Bacquelin said from Hong Kong that Clinton had in the past "come out pretty forcefully in defense of the free flow of information."

"He's on the record as saying that the Internet was likely to undermine censorship in China. That was the assumption when he was in power. I think this assumption has been proven wrong - China has proven that you can censor the Internet."

Bacquelin said he hoped Clinton would raise the concerns with those at the summit.

"It has a bearing for the entire world, whether China will embrace or smother free flow of information in the world."

Vincent Brossel of Reporters Without Frontiers said from Paris that Clinton was concerned about global challenges. "Well, the freedom of the Internet is a global challenge."

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