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Official says Clinton speech could "undermine China-US relations"

A Chinese official Friday blasted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech calling for countries to respect the rights of their citizens by allowing the free flow of Information over the Internet. "The U.S. attacks China's Internet policy, indicating that China has been restricting internet freedom. We resolutely oppose such remarks and practices that contravene facts and undermine China-US relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in remarks posted on the agency's Web site.

In her highly publicized speech Thursday, Clinton said while the Internet has brought much progress to China, "countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century. Now, the United States and China have different views on this issue, and we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently in the context of our positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship."

China has imposed an Internet censoring system that blocks access in China to some information and Web sites. Despite this, Ma claimed China's Internet is "open" and the country "supervises" the Internet according to Chinese law. The official called on the United States "to respect facts and stop attacking China under the excuse of the so-called freedom of [the] Internet."

China also has been criticized in the wake of Google's recent revelation that its computers and those of several other U.S. companies had been hacked by a source in China apparently seeking access to the e-mail of Chinese human rights activists and other information. In response, Google said it would stop censoring search results for users in China and may leave the country. Ma condemned hacking, saying it violates Chinese law and urged international cooperation to combat hacking.

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