World

Google, Facebook must accept censorship to access China audience

GENEVA: Google and Facebook will have to accept China's censorship and tough online laws if they want access to its 751 million Internet users, a Chinese regulator told a conference in Geneva on Monday.

Google and Facebook are blocked in China, along with Twitter and most major Western news outlets.

"That is a question maybe in many people's minds, why Google, why Facebook are not yet working and operating in China," said Ms Qi Xiaoxia, the director general of the Bureau of International Cooperation at the Cyberspace Administration of China.

In Google's case, it left China of its own accord in 2010.

"If they want to come back, we welcome them," Ms Qi told the Internet Governance Forum at the United Nation's European headquarters.

She said: "The condition is that they have to abide by Chinese law and regulations.

"That is the bottom line. And also that they will not do any harm to Chinese national security and national consumers' interests."

China's Communist Party has tightened cyber regulation in the past year, formalising new rules that require companies to store data locally and censor tools that allow users to subvert the firewall that blocks websites including Facebook and Google.

Apple operates in China subject to strict censorship, having removed dozens of popular messaging and virtual private network apps from its China App Store this year to comply with government requests.

"We are of the idea that cyber space is not a space that is ungoverned. We need to administer or supervise or manage the Internet according to law," Ms Qi said. - REUTERS

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