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Internet firms are morally wrong to help China, say MPs

Toby Helm / London Telegraph | August 14 2006

Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been accused by MPs of "morally unacceptable" behaviour for helping the Chinese government restrict the information its citizens can get from the internet.

The House of Commons foreign affairs select committee says they are guilty of "collaboration" with a Chinese administration that wants to limit the free flow of information for political purposes.

The report also highlights growing concern over China's expanding influence in oil rich regions of central Asia and Africa, where it is believed to be deploying ever increasing numbers of spies to mop up western technological secrets. Britain's secret services are recruiting teams of spies able to speak Mandarin and counter the growing Chinese influence.

The MPs highlight how China's increasing wealth and influence has not been accompanied by the necessary improvement in human rights.

The committee concludes: "The collaboration of Western internet companies in the censorship and policing of the internet for political purposes is morally unacceptable."

The MPs raise concerns about the threat to global democracy from closer links between Russia and the Chinese.

They warn of the possible emergence of an "authoritarian bloc opposed to democracy and Western values in Eurasia" and urge the Government to apply pressure on China's leaders to relax curbs on the internet.

They say China was damaging efforts to uphold basic human rights by supporting regimes in Africa and elsewhere, which have been condemned by the international community. The report says: "Working with or supporting outcast regimes will damage China's reputation and could set Beijing on a course in opposition to other major members of the international community."

China should be persuaded that "corrupt, brutal and incompetent regimes make unreliable partners".

They also fear that the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation - a security group aimed at opposing Nato - could "evolve into an alliance of authoritarian powers opposed to the West".

The alliance - which Iran wants to join - could "aid China's efforts to establish control over Central Asian Energy Reserves".

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