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State official on foreign social networks in China: ‘We have the right to choose our friends’

Blocked in China

Blocked in China

A senior government official in China has refuted the suggestion that overseas social networks such as Facebook have been shut out of the country, and has said that any foreign player is “welcome” although the government has the right to “choose our friends”.

Lu Wei, director of the State Internet Information Office said at a press conference yesterday that China has never shut down any foreign sites and its management of these sites aims to protect the country’s “national security and consumers’ interests”, according to pro-Beijing newspaper Global Times.

His comments came in response to a question from a reporter who asked why Facebook is blocked in China.

“We welcome anyone to come to China. We cannot change others, but we have the right to choose our friends,” Lu reportedly said.

“I hope anyone who comes to China will be our real friend,” he added.

The official denied reports in the media that suggested that “Facebook can never be admitted to China,” but added the caveat that “this does not mean that Facebook can enter into China.”

Foreign web firms should not harm “China’s national interest or the consumers’ interests”, Lu said, adding that China will never allow any company to “occupy” China’s market and earn money while “doing things that hurt the country.”

He also denied suggestions that China has increased its efforts to delete posts online. According to reports, China has removed thousands of posts from social media concerning the Occupy Central pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in recent weeks.

China will manage the internet according to the rule of law, he said.

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