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Chinese official defends censorship of Facebook

A senior Chinese regulatory official indicated on Thursday that Facebook could encounter problems trying to establish itself in the Chinese market. The official's comments were made only one week after Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, arrived in China and showed off his Chinese fluency. 

Chinese Internet censorship meant to protect country
Director of State Internet Information Office, Lu Wei, told reporters in Beijing that China's Internet censorship is in line with the law and is intended to protect the country's security and consumers, reported The Wall Street Journal.

In response to questions by foreign reporters about why Facebook and other social networking sites were not accessible in China, Wei said he personally never used these sites. He went on to explain that China had the right to control its own Internet and its over-600 million Internet users.

"China has always been hospitable and cordial … But I have a choice in who gets to be a guest in my house … I have no way to change you, but I have the power to choose my friends. I hope that all who come to China are friends, true friends," Wei said, according to the news source.

When asked about a report in September in which he was cited as saying Facebook could not enter China, he responded that he had never made that comment.

"I did not say it could not enter China, nor did I say it could enter China," Wei added, according to the news source.

Foreign Internet companies in China must follow local rules
Foreign Internet companies that operate in China are required to abide by local regulations and law. Wei explained that while foreign companies were welcome to the country, they would not be allowed to harm national interests or Chinese consumers.

It is noteworthy to mention that while Facebook is not accessible in China unless proxies are used, the site does help Chinese companies reach consumers overseas.

"What we don't allow now is [for companies] to occupy the Chinese market, make money off China and still hurt China. This is a situation we will never allow," Wei said, reported The Wall Street Journal.

What are China's real intentions?
Wei's comments seemed to indicate that the only intention of the government is to protect its citizens. What was not said, however, is that the Chinese government will not tolerate dissent, and that social media is a medium that facilitates the sharing of information and can amplify the voice of dissent. China does not want pro-democracy protests or negative publicity – access to Facebook would probably result in both.

China is preparing to hold a government-sponsored global Internet conference in November. Companies from China and other countries, including the U.S., have been invited to attend. The government intends to use the meeting as a way to foster cooperation between countries.

"We have our differences, but we can't decide to not communicate," Lu said, according to PCWorld.

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