China is sticking to its planned launch of a controversial Internet censoring software in about one week, an official newspaper said Tuesday, despite Washington's concerns over the move's possible impact on trade and access to information.
The China Daily said the plan to require the Web-filtering Green Dam Youth Escort software on all personal computers sold in China starting July 1 remains unchanged, citing an unnamed source from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. It is to be pre-installed or included on a compact disc with all PCs sold in China.
The ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment. Calls to Zhang Chenmin, head of one of the software's developers, Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co., rang unanswered.
The report came amid efforts by Chinese Web surfers to lobby the communist government to scrap its plan and after the U.S. Embassy said American diplomats met Friday with officials of China's ministries of commerce and information technology to express concern and seek more information about the system.
"The U.S. is concerned about actions that seek to restrict access to the Internet as well as restrictions on the internationally recognized right to freedom of expression," the embassy said in a statement Monday.
"The U.S. Government is concerned about Green Dam both in terms of its potential impact on trade and the serious technical issues raised by use of the software," it said. "We have asked the Chinese to engage in a dialogue on how to address these concerns."
Chinese officials say the Internet filtering is an effort to block access to violent and pornographic material. But Internet users have ridiculed the system and some are circulating petitions appealing to the government to scrap it.
China, which has the world's largest population of Internet users at more than 298 million, also has one of the world's tightest controls over the Internet. The government bans online pornography and this year launched a nationwide crackdown that led to the closing of more than 1,900 Web sites.