Clinton calls for Chinese Internet freedom, piracy curbs

In a wide-ranging speech ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington next, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Chinese leaders to improve their stance on human rights, including Internet freedom and the censorship of dissident bloggers.

“America will continue to speak out and to press China when it censors bloggers and imprisons activists,” Clinton said Friday in a speech at the State Department.

Internet issues, a subset of U.S. officials’ human rights agenda with China, got only a brief mention in Clinton’s address this morning, though almost exactly a year ago, she made online censorship and computer espionage the centerpiece of a speech delivered in the immediate aftermath of Google’s revelations of a cyberattack emanating from China, which the company paired with a threat to close down operations in that country.

Clinton’s comments this morning cap a week of events focusing on U.S.-China relations led by Cabinet heads and other administration officials on the eve of Hu’s visit.

Among the other subjects Clinton addressed this morning were the ongoing efforts to level the competitive playing field for U.S. and Chinese companies, appealing for commercial policies that would make the respective nations more hospitable business environments for one another. She also touched on the piracy of copyrighted materials and other intellectual property, long a sore spot for U.S. businesses seeking to set up shop in China.

“Chinese firms ought to be able to buy more high-tech products from the United States, make more investments here, be accorded the same terms of access that market economies enjoy.
Now at the same time, U.S. firms want to ensure that the $50 billion of American capital invested in China creates a strong foundation for new market and investment opportunities that will support global competitiveness,” Clinton said. “We can work together on these objectives, but China still needs to take important steps toward reform, and in particular, we look to China to end unfair discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies, or against their innovative technologies, to remove preferences for domestic firms, and … any measures that disadvantage foreign intellectual property.”

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