The Wall Street Journal has the latest in the debate over China and its Internet freedom policies.
BEIJING—Chinese state-run media trumpeted comments by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates that played down China’s Internet restrictions, as the government continued to ratchet up its rebuttal of recent U.S. criticisms of its Web policies.
Mr. Gates, in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” this week, said that China’s “efforts to censor the Internet have been very limited,” and likened its controls to those of other countries. In separate comments, he criticized Microsoft rival Google Inc.’s statement this month that it would stop obeying Beijing’s censorship rules on its Chinese-language site, and might close its offices in the country.
On Wednesday, several Chinese newspapers gave the comments prominent display. “Bill Gates Bats for China,” read the lead headline in the English edition of the Global Times, a tabloid published by the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper. The tabloid’s Chinese version, which claims a daily circulation of 1.5 million, also devoted its front page to Mr. Gates’s comments and to Western media reports of them, while China Daily, the country’s main English-language paper,also highlighted the comments on page one. […]
His comments followed a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week vowing to make Internet freedom a centerpiece of American foreign policy and praising U.S. companies that promote free information.
Chinese media have mounted a concerted effort to discredit Mrs. Clinton’s remarks about China in that speech, as well as Google’s allegations in its Jan. 12 statement that it and other companies were targeted by cyberattacks originating in China. […]
Microsoft in June introduced a Chinese version of its Bing search engine, which like other search engines in China strips politically sensitive links from its search results. In 2006, Microsoft was criticized by U.S. lawmakers and free speech advocates after it deleted a popular Chinese blog that was critical of the government at the request of Chinese authorities.