News / Economy

China Rejects Internet Censorship Lawsuit Filed in US

Jiang Yu, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman
Jiang Yu, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman
Stephanie Ho

China is rejecting a lawsuit filed in New York that accuses the Chinese company Baidu of censoring its Internet services on behalf of the Chinese government. 

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu flatly rejected accusations that the Chinese government is involved in illegally censoring the Internet.

She says the Chinese government encourages and supports the development of the Internet and guarantees citizens freedom of speech on the Internet.

Her comments to reporters in Beijing Thursday came one day after a lawsuit was filed in a New York court against China’s biggest computer search engine service, Baidu.

The lawsuit claims that Baidu conspires with the Chinese government to censor pro-democracy content - including the writings and videos of the eight plaintiffs, who are pro-democracy activists. They are seeking $16 million in damages.

It says Baidu’s censorship violates American laws because it affects searches that originate in the United States.

The Chinese spokeswoman said how China decides to manage the Internet is no one else’s business.

She says the Chinese government’s administration of the Internet complies with international practice and is a sovereign act. She added that foreign courts have no jurisdiction.

The lawsuit was filed more than one year after U.S. computer giant Google withdrew from China because of concerns over censorship and hacking. Google re-routed Internet users to its Chinese language site in Hong Kong. In recent months, Internet users in China have experienced difficulties with Google’s email service, Gmail.

China blocks several popular websites that allow people to share information, such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

The Baidu case comes as the U.S. government increases its efforts to combat Internet censorship in countries like China and Iran. Earlier this month, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner announced a $30 million project to encourage civil liberty, online.

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