TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Bill Gates Makes Cryptic Remark on Internet Rights to China's Hu

Bill Gates Makes Cryptic Remark on Internet Rights to China's Hu

Agence France Presse News Wire (
Wed, 19 Apr 2006 20:42:36 -0500

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates made a cryptic remark about Internet
freedom at a luncheon with Chinese President Hu Jintao, underscoring
the sensitivity of the issue.

"This new era of an Internet-based economy also presents new
challenges to us all," Gates said in a speech that preceded Hu's to a
gathering of about 600 people at a luncheon hosted for the visiting
Chinese president.

"It is my belief that industry and government around the world should
work even more closely to protect the privacy and security of Internet
users, and promote the exchange of ideas, while respecting legitimate
government considerations."

The statement appeared to be urging China to respect the rights of
Internet users, but also seemed to suggest Gates thinks "legitimate"
government worries need to be taken into consideration, without
defining legitimate.

Lou Gellos, a Microsoft spokesman, declined to say later what Gates
meant or reveal whether Gates had raised the issues of Internet
censorship with the Chinese leader on the first stop of Hu's official
visit to the United States.

But former Washington state governor Gary Locke and Chinese foreign
ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said no one raised the issue of human
rights with Hu during the two-day visit in the Seattle area.

Hu left Washington Wednesday afternoon to fly to the US capital for a
summit with Bush on Thursday.

China's government routinely jails people for posting politically
sensitive essays online, including those critical of the Communist
Party, and regularly shuts down or censors websites for sensitive
content, including any mention of Taiwan independence or the banned
Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Software giant Microsoft and search engines Google and Yahoo have all
faced criticism for doctoring content on their Chinese services and
products to suit Beijing's strict censorship rules.

Further, Yahoo has faced international condemnation for providing
information to authorities that led to the jailing of two online
dissident writers.

Copyright 2006 Agence France Presse.

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