A state-run newspaper labelled the appeal from Washington as “information imperialism”.
Clinton’s speech on Thursday elevated the issue of Internet freedom in the US human rights agenda as never before. She urged China to investigate cyber intrusions that recently prompted search engine Google to threaten to pull out of the country.
“Regarding comments that contradict facts and harm China-US relations, we are firmly opposed,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted on Friday on the ministry’s Web site.
“We urge the US side to respect facts and stop using the so-called freedom of the Internet to make unjustified accusations against China,” the statement said.
In her speech in Washington, Clinton cited China as among a number of countries where there has been “a spike in threats to the free flow of information” over the past year. She also named Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
Ma defended China’s policies promoting the web, saying the nation boasted more than 380 million users, 3.6 million web sites, and 180 million blogs.
“The Chinese Internet is open and China is the country witnessing the most active development of the Internet,” Ma said, adding that China regulated the web according to law and in keeping with its “national conditions and cultural traditions.”
Clinton’s speech came on the heels of a January 12 threat from Google to pull out of China unless the government relented on rules requiring the censorship of content the Communist Party considers subversive.
Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said on Thursday that the company hoped to find a way to maintain a presence in China but intended to stop censoring search results within “a reasonably short time”.
US State Department officials have said they intend to lodge a formal complaint with Chinese officials soon over the Google matter. Clinton not only urged China to investigate the cyber intrusions but openly publish its findings.
China has sought to downplay the Google dispute and Ma repeated China’s standard line that its laws ban hacking and that it was a leading target for cyber crime.
On Thursday, Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying the Google case “should not be linked with relations between the two governments and countries; otherwise, it’s an over-interpretation.”
Clinton’s speech was also denounced by “Global Times” newspaper on Friday as part of a US campaign to impose its values and denigrate other cultures, labelling it “information imperialism.”