Business groups hail China web software delay


The American and European chambers of commerce in China have welcomed a decision by Beijing to delay an order that new computers sold in the country be equipped with an Internet filtering programme.

The filter, called Green Dam Youth Escort, was to have been required from Wednesday, but the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said computer makers needed more time, state media reported Tuesday.

Beijing says the software is designed to shield children within the world's largest online population from pornography, but trade and rights groups are concerned it is an attempt to tighten already strict controls on Internet use.

"We believe that this is a positive development, which is consistent with international best practices and is good for Chinese consumers, the government and the business community," the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a statement.

"We recognise and continue to support the use of effective and responsible parental controls to protect children from inappropriate material on the Internet."

AmCham said it considered the announcement of the delay "a positive step forward" but would continue to monitor the situation.

The European Chamber of Commerce in China also said it was encouraged by the decision.

"This is a pragmatic solution," it said. "The European Chamber looks forward to continuing to work with the Chinese government to find market-based solutions that enable consumer choice and protect children on the Internet."

China's Xinhua news agency quoted a Ministry of Industry and Information Technology spokesman on Tuesday as saying the "pre-installation was delayed as some computer producers said such a massive installation demanded extra time."

The spokesman did not give a new timetable for the software to be installed.