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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Smith Tells China Censorship Hearing He Wants To "Bring Down the Great Firewall of China"

Rebecca MacKinnon of RConversation is live-blogging today's joint hearing of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on China's internet censorship. This is the first-ever congressional hearing in which bloggers were specifically invited to live-blog the event.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, said in his opening statement that he hopes the hearing can focus "on a discussion on how American high-tech firms can partner with the U.S. government and human rights activists to bring down the Great Firewall of China, and on how America's greatest software engineers can use their intelligence to create innovative new products to protect dissidents and promote human rights."

Smith is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-CA, is the Ranking Minority Member of that subcommittee. MacKinnon reports on Lantos' opening statement:

"Lantos' message: 'Your abhorrent activities in China are a disgrace. I simply do not understand how your corporate leadership sleeps at night.' Citing the parallel between complying with Chinese censorship and complying with German government censorship of Nazi websites is 'beneath contempt.'

"The German government is acting as democratic representative of the people. China has rubber stamp parliament, the Chinese government has no moral qualms about suppressing religious and political dissent. If the Chinese government passes a law saying that all women are forbidden to use email will Google comply?

"These companies tell us that they will change China. But China has already changed them."

Go here for RConversation's complete live-blogging.

Also live-blogging the hearing are Tim Chapman at Townhall.com's Capitol Report, Clayton at RedState.org and Human Events Online. Oh yes, The New York Times also is live-blogging the hearing.


China just happenned to release a statement today through its state media denying that it censors the Internet or arrests people publishing online. In fact, claims China's Liu Zhengrong, Vice Head of the Internet Affairs Bureau of the State Council Information Office, said "no one in China has been arrested simply because he or she said something on the Internet," according to Reuters.