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China: Google and others must end complicity in restricting freedoms

Amnesty International today (26 January) called on Google and other internet companies operating in China to respect people's rights to freedoms of opinion, expression and information. The organisation was reacting to Google's launch of a self-censoring Chinese search engine.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Google and other companies must stop colluding with the Chinese government in restricting people’s rights to freedoms of opinion, expression and information.

“Google must conduct its business in China in a way that respects human rights, abides by international standards and avoids complicity in human rights violations.

“The company's decision to bow to the Chinese Government’s demands on censorship sadly brings them in line with their competitors. When it comes to the crunch, profits have come before principles.

“There is a tendency in the international business community to deal with China on the basis of a different set of standards. China should not be treated differently just because it is expedient for companies and governments to do so.�

Last year, Microsoft launched a portal in China that blocks use of words such as 'freedom' in blog text. The company recently closed down the blog of Zhao Jing, who used the blog name Michael An Ti, after he supported a strike against the politically-motivated sacking of an editor at the Beijing News.

Yahoo has admitted revealing email account details of the journalist Shi Tao - who was peacefully exercising his right to impart information - to the Chinese authorities, a move that contributed to his prosecution and sentencing to 10 years in prison.

Kate Allen added:

“Companies such as Google must resist the Chinese government´s censorship pressure, which is a violation of internationally recognised rights of free expression.

"Companies that do business in China should be taking action individually and on an industry-wide basis to open up the space for Chinese citizens to express themselves freely.

“Chinese internet users who want to read objective news or find out about human rights, Tibet and SARs, often rely on search engines.

"Google’s insistence that ‘doing less evil’ in China is better than not investing at all is of little help to more than 60 ‘cyber dissidents’ who have been persecuted for their use of the internet, many of whom have been sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment.

"While acknowledging that Google has taken a number of steps to ensure access of Chinese users to the Internet, Amnesty International is nonetheless dismayed at the growing global trend in the IT industry to cowtow to governments in their use of repression.�

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