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Cyberspace regulator meets the press
Updated: 2006-02-17 19:45

China Daily: With regard to Internet users posting messages, I have noticed two situations: on the one hand, some foreign media criticize Chinese websites for deleting Internet users' messages; on the other hand, I myself often surf the Internet and I have seen some media, for example, The New York Times has similar regulations for its website, saying that the administrator reserves the right to delete certain messages if necessary. I would like to know what your comments are concerning these two situations. Thanks.

Liu: It is very normal for websites to delete illegal and harmful information. This is a common practice for websites all over the world, so it is for China. We have also noticed that some leading US websites including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo, and AOL all have explicit stipulations when it comes to posting messages in forums.

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 behavior at any time."

Websites in the US have stipulated that Internet users cannot violate US laws nor infringe on other people's rights and intellectual property rights while posting their messages. Internet users are not allowed to engage in business activities through posting messages. It is unfair and smacks of double standards when criticizing China for deleting illegal and harmful messages while it is legal for US websites to do so.

As a country with very advanced Internet development, the US has comparatively matured experiences. Many methods we used are learned from the US. We will continue to adopt successful and beneficial Internet management practices from around the world.

New York Times: What are your comments on US companies' cooperation with China in accordance with Chinese laws? Have some leading US media and Internet firms including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo spared no effort to obey China's Internet laws and regulations? Have their management of the Internet posed some threat to China?

Liu: China's Internet market is huge and open. We welcome foreign firms to provide legal Internet services in China. Chinese laws will also protect their legal rights. Those big international firms you mentioned should know how to provide legal Internet services. As to what to do? It's their business. But there is one widely acknowledged principle: firms that provide services in China including Internet firms should respect and obey Chinese laws.

As I know, when these firms enter the Chinese market, they all have studied the relevant laws and regulations in China. I believe more foreign businesses will benefit from the increasingly attractive market.

Washington Post: You just mentioned many Chinese laws and regulations and I'd like to know whether foreign firms and joint ventures in China can get approval as Internet content providers. Do you have any specific legislation in this regard? In addition, as China has regulations for news information services and the country has a large number of individual websites and web logs, can users post comments on news stories freely or must they get approval? Also you talked about illegal, harmful information, I'd like to mention a case. Before the Spring Festival, many websites were told not to publish news reporting the closure of Bingdian Weekly (Freezing Point Weekly, a feature supplement of China Youth Daily). Do you think the news itself was illegal or harmful?

Liu: Our regulations on online information service management define the websites that can provide information services. We divide them into two categories. The first is "for profit" that requires registration; the other is "non-profit" that requires the website to be put on record. Websites must get approval for providing four kinds of information including news, publications, education, and medicine.

The Regulations on Management of Online News Services issued last September stipulate that websites must get approval for providing news information. So far, 163 websites have been approved. The web logs and other websites that provide on-line message services, which you mentioned, should go through procedures in line with Regulations on Management of Internet Bulletin Board Systems. I won't go into detail here due to time constraints.

The shutting down of Bingdian Weekly triggered hot online discussions. I think it's common for a newspaper to make adjustments. No need to exaggerate it. I have found many comments about Bingdian. This morning, I happened to read a comment and printed it out. I have it here and I'd like to share with you.

The comment, posted by a user on club.cat898.com, said it's the internal thing for China Youth Daily to readjust its section as a newspaper has its own editorial system. It's not reasonable to make any wild guesses. An article on Bingdian even said the invasion of China by the Eight Allied Powers (aggressive troops sent by Britain, the US, Germany, France, Russia, Japan, Italy and Austria in 1900) was because of the anti-imperialist Yihetuan Movement in China. Few Chinese will accept this point. I think it should be rectified, the user said. After this news conference, I'd like to provide a copy to any of you who are interested in it.

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