US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton warned Beijing that its alleged attack on Google would have "consequences" and compared China's current censorship of the internet to the days of eastern European communism and the Berlin Wall.

In turn Chinese government officials criticised Mrs Clinton this week, accusing America of "information imperialism" in its critique of the country's online restrictions to information.

State-sponsored news

The Chinese state-sponsored English-language newspaper the Global Times, said in a recent report that information from the West comes "loaded with aggressive rhetoric against those countries that do not follow their lead."

"Unlike advanced Western countries, Chinese society is still vulnerable to the effect of multifarious information flowing in, especially when it is for creating disorder," the report added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said: "The U.S. has criticised China's policies to administer the Internet and insinuated that China restricts Internet freedom. This runs contrary to the facts and is harmful to China-US relations.

"We urge the United States to respect the facts and cease using so-called Internet freedom to make groundless accusations against China."

Violations of basic online rights

"Countries that restrict free access to information, or violate the basic rights of internet users, risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century," Mrs Clinton said.

"Countries or individuals that engage in cyber-attacks should face consequences and international condemnation. In an internet-connected world, an attack on one nation's networks can be an attack on all.

"We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas," Clinton told an audience in Washington, also namechecking Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam as nationsthat were guilty of online censorship and harrassment of bloggers.

"I hope that refusal to support politically motivated censorship will become a trademark characteristic of American technology companies. And when their business dealings threaten to undermine this freedom, they need to consider what's right, not simply the prospect of quick profits," Mrs Clinton said, referring to the recent cyber-attacks on Google.

Via The Times