Mon, Nov 07, 2011 - Page 4 News List

China’s technology firms back Beijing on Web controls

Reuters, BEIJING

The heads of China’s largest technology companies have endorsed Beijing’s aim to intensify controls of online social media, pledging to “stop the spread of harmful information” on the Internet, Xinhua news agency said yesterday.

About 10 top executives, including Sina Corp’s Charles Chao (趙廣民), Baidu’s Robin Li (李彥宏) and Alibaba’s Jack Ma (馬雲), participated in the three-day discussion that ended on Saturday in Beijing hosted by the State Internet Information Office, one of the country’s Internet regulators, Xinhua said.

China’s Internet companies and Internet operators have “reached a common agreement” that they would “conscientiously safeguard the broadcasting of positive messages online,” the report said, and “Resolutely curb the spread of rumors online, online pornography, Internet fraud and the illegal spread of harmful information on the Internet.”

The meeting was presided over by Wang Chen (王晨), director of the State Council Information Office, the government’s propaganda and information arm.

Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei (苗圩) said Internet companies must increase their investment in “tracking surveillance.”

Late last month, Beijing vowed to strengthen Internet administration and promote content acceptable to the Chinese Communist Party, according to a communique of a recent party leadership conclave published in the official People’s Daily.

The announcement from the party meeting builds on a stream of warnings in state media that has shown that Beijing is nervous about the booming microblogs, called weibo in Chinese, and their potential to tear the seams of censorship and controls.

The business impact is likely to be muted, because investors have already taken into account growing official scrutiny of Chinese Internet companies, analysts said.

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