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China and Clinton clash on freedom of the Internet

China's censors, who blocked microblog searches for 'Egypt' and 'Cairo' to stifle debate on democracy, have deleted questions posed by the US embassy to Chinese netizens on Twitter-like microblogs. Reshma Patil reports.

world Updated: Feb 18, 2011 00:31 IST
Reshma Patil

"What do you think is more important? Liberty or security?''

China's censors, who blocked microblog searches for 'Egypt' and 'Cairo' to stifle debate on democracy, have deleted questions posed by the US embassy to Chinese netizens on Twitter-like microblogs. On Thursday in Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu warned that China is against other countries 'using the Internet as a pretext to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries'.

The US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and embassy officials had posted quotes from secretary of state Hillary Clinton's Tuesday speech in which she said regimes that muzzle the Internet will 'eventually find themselves boxed in'.

In a statement to Wall Street Journal Huntsman said, "It is ironic that the Chinese are blocking an online discussion about Internet freedom."

On Twitter, banned in China since 2009, Chinese netizens who manage to bypass the firewalls are comparing Tahrir Square and Tiananmen Square.