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Cablegate: China Officially "Uninstalls" Green Dam Internet

VZCZCXRO2398
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #2360/01 2260840
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 140840Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5668
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 7370
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0017
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1336
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2529
RUEAHLC/DHS WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 002360

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

State for EAP/CM - SFlatt, JHabjan
State for EEB/CIP - SFlynn, FSaeed
USTR for Awinter, JMcHale, TWineland, AMain
Commerce for MAC
Commerce for ITA - IKasoff, NMelcher
DOJ for CCIPS - MDubose and SChemtob
FBI for LBryant
State for White House OSTP Ambassador Richard Russell
NSC for Melissa Hathaway

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD PGOV PHUM SOCI SCUL ECON CH
SUBJECT: CHINA OFFICIALLY "UNINSTALLS" GREEN DAM INTERNET
CENSORING SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS. . . FOR NOW

Reftels: BEIJING 1538
BEIJING 1520

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary. Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
(MIIT) Minister Li announced August 13 computers sold in China would
not be subject to mandatory internet censorship software
requirements. The remarks represent the highest level signal to
date that the Chinese government has officially abandoned earlier
plans requiring all computers sold in China to include
Chinese-produced "Green Dam" internet filtering software. Industry
representatives, while viewing the announcement as positive, remain
skeptical of the Chinese government's longer-term plans and do not
rule out the later re-imposition of similar controls in one form or
another. End summary.

2. (SBU) MIIT Minister Li Yizhong, at an August 13 press conference,
announced that China "as to the majority of consumers, [would] fully
respect freedom of choice; we will not mandatorily install [Green
Dam] software on all computers in the market." Minister Li noted,
however, that Green Dam would continue to be installed on computers
in schools, internet cafes, and other public places.

3. (SBU) Li attempted to backpedal gracefully, explaining that
MIIT's original May 22, 2009 circular had mischaracterized MIIT's
actual (and current) position. (Note: MIIT initially, had mandated
that all computers sold in China, whether imported or
domestically-produced, include pre-installed Chinese-produced Green
Dam filtering software effective July 1, 2009. See reftels. End
Note.) Industry and popular backlash quickly followed, along with
interventions by foreign governments, including the U.S., prompting
MIIT to announce June 30 that it was "delaying" indefinitely the
implementation of the Green Dam software requirement.

4. (SBU) MIIT's deferred implementation has now become an effective
reversal of its prior mandate, though Minister Li suggested MIIT's
next steps would involve soliciting a wide range of views regarding
implementation of such software where it is required, i.e., schools,
internet cafes, and other public computers.

Industry Reaction Mixed
-----------------------
5. (SBU) Local U.S. Information and Technology Office (USITO)
analyst Wen Jie expressed continued skepticism over the Chinese
government's longer term plans regarding such software. He observed
that the fact Minister Li emphasized "consumer choice" could still
leave the door open to impose requirements upon manufacturers to
offer such software on computers sold in China (whether activated or
not). Wen Jie noted many details of the plan remain unclear, but
added, at the very least, MIIT's formal August 13 statement is
useful precedent in any subsequent battles industry and consumers
may undertake relating to this issue.

6. (SBU) Dell Computer's local senior manager, Ryan Zhang, suggested
a policy reversal could come as early as within six months. Zhang
expressed similar skepticism over how definitive Minister's Li's
statement really is, given his emphasis on offering "consumer"
choice (not/not on manufacturer's businQs decisions to pre-install
software or co-package). Zhang suggested MIIT and other Chinese
government policymakers could still decide to make censorship
software mandatory, but handle the public relations more carefully.

7. (SBU) Another local information technology analyst echoed
concerns regarding China's moving target on censorship software,
especially industry concerns over ambiguities regarding acceptable
distribution methods and cost-bearing, which are still unclear
following MIIT's announcements. The analyst noted some computer
manufacturers, including Chinese producers Acer and Lenovo, have
complied with MIIT's original mandate to pre-install Green Dam on
all computers sold in China. Apple Computer local government
relations representative told us that although Apple received an

BEIJING 00002360 002 OF 002


early waiver from MIIT (Green Dam reportedly is incompatible with
Apple operating system), Apple nonetheless is seeking approval of
its existing parental control applications for its computers used
here in the education field.

8. (SBU) Comment. Post views MIIT's latest announcement as
confirmation of China's decision to defer (for now) imposing
internet censorship software on Chinese computer consumers. This
significantly reduces the immediate associated difficulties for
manufacturers. Though they remain cautious about declaring final
victory, industry representatives clearly feel emboldened by having
convinced China to reverse its policy course. Industry and the
growing (and likely a vocal chorus of Chinese "netizens") stand
ready to re-engage should China seek to revisit internet censorship
mandates any time soon. Embassy will also continue to monitor the
issue closely. End comment.

GOLDBERG

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