The draft anti-terrorism law has caused concern in Western capitals as it could require technology firms to install “back doors” in products or to hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government.
The American government does not believe that anyone should be allowed to install backdoors other that its own spooks and gets rather twitchy when other governments want to do the same thing.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei correctly pointed out that the US position was hypocritical and he hoped that the US respected China’s law-making process and did not adopt “double standards”.
China faced a serious threat from terrorism and needed to improve its legal framework to deal with the problem, Hong added.
“What we are doing is reasonable and fair,” he said.
Terrorists had been using the Internet to operate and China needed laws to cope with this, Hong added. Basically China only copied laws being drafted in the US and other European countries, he added.
“The draft of our anti-terrorism law mandates the obligation of telecommunications operators, Internet servers and service providers to assist public and state security organ in stopping and probing terrorist activities,” Hong added.
“This is both totally rational and necessary. This rule won’t limit the lawful operations of companies, does not provide a ‘back door’ and will affect neither the firms’ intellectual property nor Internet users’ freedom of speech.”
Officials say China faces a growing threat from militants and separatists, especially in its unruly Western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in the past few years.
However human rights groups, though, doubt the existence of a cohesive militant group in Xinjiang and say the unrest mostly stems from anger among the region’s Muslim Uighur people over restrictions on their religion and culture.