The Cable

Clinton calls on China to explain Internet persecution

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling on the Chinese government to explain itself following attacks on on the Internet accounts of human rights activists that apparently originated from there.

"We look to the Chinese government for an explanation," she said in a statement. "The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy."

Google is threatening to pull out of China if the company can't renegotiate what has been its controversial policy of cooperating with Chinese government Internet censorship activities. Google, along with other Internet giants, has come under fire before for aiding Chinese Internet censorship and persecution of free speech by Chinese Internet monitors.

In 2006, Yahoo admitted giving the Chinese government information on activists that led to their arrests and imprisonment. The State Department has been meeting with top Internet leaders lately ahead of their planned push for more Internet-based diplomacy, which will be outlined in a major policy address by Clinton on Jan. 21.

For a detailed explanation of China's use of the Internet, read this.

The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Clinton-Okada, Gaza, P5+1, Abu Dahbi

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of Tuesday's briefing by acting deputy spokesman Gordon Duguid:

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada won't just focus on the Futenma basing issue, said Duguid. "They find that this will be a good time to talk about wider issues, such as North Korea, Iran and Burma, as well as engagement with China."
  • Special Envoy George Mitchell was in Brussels and met with the EU Political and Security Committee known as the Paris Group and then also had bilateral meetings with EU Foreign Affairs Chief Baroness Ashton, Tony Blair and with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos.
  • Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke was in Abu Dahbi but has now moved on to Pakistan. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Arturo Valenzuela is in Chile where he met with President Michelle Bachelet, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariano Fernandez, Minister of Finance Andre Velasco, as well as presidential candidates Eduardo Frei and Sebastian Pinera.
  • Duguid rejected the accusation by Iran that America was somehow involved in the bombing death of nuclear scientist Masoud Ali Mohammadi. "The idea, the discussion, the charge that the United States had anything to do with a murder in Tehran today is absurd," he said.
  • Cautious support for the Egyptian move to build a wall to stop tunnels from Gaza. "I think I've given you our position that we need to stop weapon smuggling into Gaza, and this wall is being built in that effort," Duguid said.
  • No confirmation that the next P5+1 meeting on Iran will be Saturday (toward the end of this week, Duguid said) and as for the substance, "We will be looking at specific measures, of course." Clinton said the sanctions should target the elite, but that's not what the congressional bills say.
  • No comment on the reports that Egyptian police were beating American women on the streets of Tahrir Square.
  • The State Department would welcome, but is not explicitly calling for a review of the acquittal of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Nahyan, the member of Abu Dahbi's royal family who was let go despite being caught on video torturing an Afgani man.