Chinese artist-dissident lauds Google plan to stop censoring

A well-known Chinese artist and activist voiced strong support late Tuesday for Google Inc.'s plan to stop censoring results on its China-based search engine.

Ai Weiwei, who wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, gave Google the most visible support it has received for its plan from an individual Chinese activist. The outspoken Ai also said two of his Gmail accounts were hijacked late last year.

Google last month cited cyberattacks on Gmail, partly aimed at accessing the accounts of Chinese human rights activists, as one of the reasons why it plans to stop censoring search results on, even if that means being forced out of the country.

"It is encouraging for the Chinese people to see that a leading Internet company recognizes that censorship is a violation of basic human rights and values," Ai wrote. "To stand up and speak out in a society in which those values are under constant attack requires courage and deserves moral support."

Results are still being censored on Google's China search engine and the company has said it is in talks with the Chinese government.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency late Tuesday also issued the country's latest denial of any government involvement in cyberattacks.

"The government has never supported or been involved in cyberattacks, and it will never do so. Those remarks are sheer nonsense," Peng Bo, an Internet official in the country's Information Office, was quoted as saying.

China's response to Google so far has appeared inflexible. State media have played down the political side of Google's move, while officials have said Internet companies must follow China's laws in order to operate there.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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