The US and European chambers of commerce in China yesterday welcomed a decision by Beijing to delay an order that new computers sold in the country be equipped with an Internet filtering program.
Young Chinese Web users flooded to a trendy art zone cafe in Beijing yesterday to celebrate the last-minute halt to the order, and to make a stand for freedom of expression.
The filter, called Green Dam Youth Escort, was to have been required from yesterday, but the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said computer makers needed more time so the policy would be delayed, state media reported on Tuesday.
Beijing says the software is designed to shield children within the world’s largest online population from pornography, but trade and rights groups are concerned it is an attempt to tighten already strict controls on Internet use.
“We believe that this is a positive development, which is consistent with international best practices and is good for Chinese consumers, the government and the business community,” the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a statement. “We recognize and continue to support the use of effective and responsible parental controls to protect children from inappropriate material on the Internet.”
AmCham said it considered the announcement of the delay “a positive step forward” but would continue to monitor the situation.
The European Chamber of Commerce in China also said it was encouraged by the decision.
“This is a pragmatic solution,” it said. “The European Chamber looks forward to continuing to work with the Chinese government to find market-based solutions that enable consumer choice and protect children on the Internet.”
Meanwhile, dressed in matching t-shirts mocking the widely derided Green Dam program, about 200 Beijing residents arrived at an art zone cafe by mid-morning to eat a traditional Chinese breakfast, talk about censorship and plan for a day-long party.
Originally conceived as part of an Internet boycott to mark the launch of the filter, the atmosphere was unexpectedly festive as guests celebrated an unlikely victory against the Chinese state.
“This is a very rare example for the government to suddenly push back an important decision the night before it is due to be rolled out,” said outspoken artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未), who had organized the boycott and the party.
“We are very happy because we got what we wanted,” said Liu Yaohua, a 27-year-old artist who had shaved the letter U into his hair the day before.
He lined up beside three friends with their hair shaved into an F, C and K, to spell out an English obscenity.
“We wanted to express our attitude toward Green Dam,” he said.
There was trepidation among some party-goers about attending an event that was a direct, if light-hearted, challenge to a government wary of losing any control over its population.
“I am a little bit nervous, but I felt it was very important that I find the strength to come,” painter Zang Yi said.
Ai said battles over censorship would continue, but the government may have shot itself in the foot with Green Dam, by galvanizing previously apolitical young Web users.
“When young people who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s found that the computers, which are so vital to their life, might be affected, it very naturally caused a kind of politicization,” Ai said.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
CAUTION: Taiwan had zero cases of death from food poisoning for six years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, an FDA official said The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption. The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed. That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people. Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters