Recent events in China has really changed the opinion towards the situation concerning censorship in China. USTR (United States Trade Representative) responsible for commercial matters requested consultations at WTO concerning Internet censorship regime.
It was not just a formal complaint. It is sooner a question set among countries concerning sensitive issue. Overall China’s treatment towards the situation and questions taken into consideration will consider the key to the information freedom in the People’s Republic of China.
On the whole this article is devoted to explanation of the significance of the development in this direction. Two primary questions will be discussed in this material. First aspect is USA and China positions at WTO concerning censorship issues. Second aspect to regarded is explanation possible illegacy of China’s Internet censorship according international law, regarding exact questions posed to the country during the latest consultations. It should be noted the implications of this development can greatly influence domestic politics of the country.
Questions about intellectual property rights case.
A number of consultations hold with China touched upon several aspects of intellectual property laws. Finally WTO declared a formal complaint. The complaint reflected China’s policy in providing no protect of the intellectual property rights failing in censorship laws. If we take into consideration legal products of show business here we may found some singer banned in this particular country, it means further away all the music products coming from his name won’t be protected in this direction in the given country. If a singer holds a copyright country’s authorities won’t enforce the copyright, it means her creative products can be objected to free pirate.
Sound reclamations in the Chinese authorities rounds led to the statement if the work was not allowed in the country so there is no use of protecting it. Talking about American and Chinese treatment of the situation the American side points out a great volume of copyrighted information that does not suit the requirements of Chinese censorship. WTO denied China’s defense and declared it must take intellectual property rights in case the goods do not meet country’s property rights if the goods does not suit fixed requirements.
Audiovisual products in China
One more questions is well worth paying attention to in this argue. After WTO decided the dispute between China and US in the above indicated. Question concerning audiovisual products rose above. According to Chinese law only inner enterprises are allowed to import movies, magazines, books and other similar products which are illegal under international law.
China took the defensive side pointing to another aspect of WTO law. According to the law country can take violate measures towards WTO if there is necessity in protecting the aspects of morality. Such censorship regime required in protecting public morality. China disputed this aspect, urging that monopoly for importing cultural products need to be enforced.
US declared that China has a right to move a model without relying the frames of censorship. Both parties can import the products and apply to the central censorship permission department. China urged this approach is far more costly, china needs to hold the reforms and import the regime of complying international law.
For the present time there are being holded consultations devoted to the disputes. One of the obligations accepted by China after joining to WTO is publishing and making publicly available some foreign jurisprudence translations affecting international law. Foreign business can’t be imagined without a website. Some foreign websites are often blocked in the country. Such giants as Facebook, Twitter or Google are the best examples. The problem is humbling little brick and business companies not well known over the country.
1. Service supplier websites are usually based not in the country and sometimes are inaccessible. It can prevent companies from marketing products to the market. There must be an agreement between two sides in understanding rules and adopting appropriate policies in order to avoid the problems.
Among the main problems to be decided one can find the follows issues:
- Determining ministry responsible for blocking and unblocking websites
- Clearing out what particular criteria influence on getting access to the foreign websites
- What ministers are responsible for drafting?
- What is the process of a blocked website?
- How does the blocking occur considering directly or indirectly.
- are questions of blocking and unblocking are typically implemented by companies by means of the written order in government. What particular organs are organized in such process?
-can a service supplier determine being not in the area what is up with success to the website in order to avoid some misunderstandings.
- can a service supplier be affected by a decision in blocking the website.
- is the process used to preventing in getting access to the websites both foreign and not.
2. United states is interested in better understanding of the functions of the office for foreign business
- What are the responsibilities and authorities of the SIIO?
- Will the SIIO handle licensing or other approval processes for Internet service providers or make decisions regarding filtering of foreign websites? If so, please describe which of these processes the SIIO will manage.
- Should companies contact the SIIO or some other entity when they have questions concerning China’s Internet laws, regulations and policies? If the SIIO is the appropriate contact, which office or individual should be contacted?
- Which categories of objectionable conduct are managed by each ministry with responsibilities or authorities for managing Internet content?
3. USA agrees that having a n information from SIIO foreign websites are blocked while sharing IP addresses.
- What is the explanation of all this?
- Are there any ways that China can filter to avoid inadvertent website blockages?
- Are Chinese authorities able to consider reasonable in notifying the owners of the host or sites, can web site hosting service ensure that the other sites are inadvertently blocked?
- What steps should be taken in considering reasonable notifying, can website ensure the other sites to be blocked?
4. State council has issued some measures for the administration in order to describe some content categories which may not be disseminated by service providers. Two additional categories of the content issued by Ministry of information and State Council may not be transmitted. United States is seeking clarity upon the broad nature of the categories.
- If there any laws, policies and regulations or other guidance able to establish criteria in determining whether the content fits eleven categories or not.
- Are government orders or requests filtering specific terms communicated directly to Internet information? If yes, then how are directives communicated? Are these requests made publicly?
5. According to the information coming from White Paper in China “business operators and Internet information service providers establish web security and utilize technical measures for the transmission of all types of illegal information ”.
- How is illegal information defined in this instance?
- Is a written governmental order required for a private corporation or a relevant authority to block the transmission of illegal information?
- What types of technical measures do service suppliers expect to use to prevent transmission of the illegal information? Do authorities in China approve specific technical measures? If so, which ministry does this?
WTO put China in situation required to appear and answer all the questions. It puts Chinese government in some kind of a tricky position. The funny thing about censorship is that people who know the rules of the game can make it effective.
Opinion and analysis
US-China relations at WTO become more and more clear. A growing pattern of WTO disputes between two countries pay attention to China’s censorship policy.
It should be noted US has never alleged there should be a practice of censorship. The decision to practice censorship is a matter of internal policy of China because being a sovereign state it must decided between people and government of the country. Taking into account that the Chinese censorship impacts trade relations with other countries the censorship regime should be not so strict and more transparent.