April 16, 2024

Press Freedom


China January 28, 2010

H.E. Hu Jintao
People’s Republic of China
Fax: ( 512.5810

H.E. Wen Jiabao
People’s Republic of China
Fax: ( 512.5810

Your Excellencies:

The news that Google Inc. has detected a highly sophisticated attack originating in the People’s Republic of China is hardly a surprise. In spite of repeated denials by China’s government, it has been evident for years that China’s government will go to great lengths to prevent the Chinese people from having access to a free flow of information and to uncover those who were breaching the walls of censorship.

What is surprising – and gratifying to all those who are fighting for freedom of expression – is that Google is now willing to pull out of China rather than continuing to cooperate with your censors.

When Google entered China four years ago, it thought that the benefits of opening the door to the enormous amount of information available on Google would outweigh the penalties of agreeing to censor information the Chinese government considered objectionable. Unfortunately, other American Internet organizations agreed to cooperate with your government even more fully than Google.

It has long been evident that Chinese authorities were breaking into the e-mail accounts of journalists and freedom activists. This was particularly true during the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, despite assurances that there would be no censorship then. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there were twenty four Chinese journalists in jail in December, half of whom are there for criticizing your government online over recent years. Just last week, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China reported that the Google mail accounts of some of its members had been hijacked.

Google says that its own investigation show that at least twenty other large companies were targeted just as Google was. Google says the evidence shows “that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the G-mail accounts of Chinese human rights organizations.” Fortunately, only two accounts were accessed and the content of the e-mails was not obtained.

Google also states that dozens of American, European and Chinese advocates of human rights have been “routinely accessed by third parties.”

We understand that Google serves about one third of the enormous number of Chinese who visit the Internet, most of the rest going to Baidu, which is controlled by the Chinese government. Should Google withdraw from China, it would be an enormous loss for the Chinese people in terms of their access to the vast pool of information that is essential for a modern nation to succeed economically and politically in the long run.

China can not close the door now. China is intertwined with the rest of the world, and one way or another, its citizens will find access to the Internet. The Overseas Press Club of America, which has been defending the freedom of the press around the world for seventy years, urges you to let Google and the users of the Internet to operate freely in China.

Respectfully yours,

Jeremy Main
Kevin McDermott
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee


H.E. Zhou Wenzhong
Ambassador to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 966.0631

Ambassador Zhang Yesui
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China
to the United Nations
350 East 35 Street
New York, NY 10016
Fax: (212) 634.7626

H.E. Jon Huntsman
U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.
Embassy of the United States of America
No. 55 An Jia Lou Lu
100600 Beijing
Fax: ( 532.6929

China Daily
No. 15 Dongjie, Chaoyang District
Beijing 100029
Fax: (011.86.10)