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China Defends Its Internet Censorship Policies

China is defending its Internet censorship policies, less than a day after U.S. Internet company Google moved its China-based search engine to Hong Kong.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang fended off questions about Google by saying the Internet in China is fully open, but that it is administered according to law and in line with international practice.

Qin says China filters content that it considers harmful to national security or social interest.

He urged foreign Internet service providers, such as Google, to abide by China's laws and regulations if they want to do business here.

Other countries that filter Internet content include Germany, which bans sites that glorify the Nazis, and publicly accessible computers in U.S. facilities that ban pornography.

But China's restrictions on the Internet are more sweeping: It blocks social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as many foreign news sites, including VOA's. In addition, material regarding sensitive historical issues, such as the government's violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters 20 years ago, is blocked.

The Chinese comments came hours after Google said China residents logging on to the company's China site will automatically be redirected to its Hong Kong Web site. Users redirected to the site are greeted with a banner welcoming them to the "new home of Google China."

Although the Hong Kong site is uncensored, Chinese filtering systems continue to block sensitive material for users inside China.

Earlier in the day, China's cabinet accused Google of violating a written promise to filter its search service. The statement called Google's decision "totally wrong" and expressed indignation at what it called Google's "unreasonable conduct."

Google's move fulfills a pledge the company made more than two months ago, when it first announced it was ready to pull out of China because of concerns over hacking and censorship.

One Internet user in Beijing, who asked not to be named, says she thinks as a result, Chinese netizens may initially have problems accessing Google's other sites.

"Maybe for the time being there will be some problems such as some main applications that we are using right now, such as Gmail, Google Documents, Google Calendar," she said. "But I think that in a long time [in the long run], it will be replaced by other applications from other companies, such as local Chinese companies."

She says she does not feel abandoned by Google and does not blame the company for its decision. Instead, she thinks Google had no choice.