US senator: China wants hotels to filter Internet

US Senator Sam Brownback contends China is requiring US-owned hotels there to filter Internet service during the Olympic Games

The Chinese government is demanding that US-owned hotels there filter Internet service during the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, US Senator Sam Brownback has alleged.

The Chinese government is requiring US-owned hotels to install Internet filters to "monitor and restrict information coming in and out of China," Brownback said Thursday. "This is an insult to the spirit of the games and an affront to American businesses," he said. "I call on China to immediately rescind this demand."

Brownback, a Kansas Republican, made the allegation during a press conference on China's human rights record late last week. Brownback joined six other lawmakers and several human rights groups in criticizing China's human rights record.

Brownback said he got the information on Internet filtering from "two different reliable but confidential sources." Brownback's media office didn't immediate return a phone call on Friday asking for more details.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, also did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Spokeswomen for two US hotel chains popular in China, Hyatt and Starwood, were also not immediately available.

Asked Thursday about Brownback's allegations, US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said he wasn't aware of those specific requests from the Chinese government.

"Certainly, we have been concerned by a number of efforts to restrict people's freedom of information," Casey said at a news conference. "We would hope that people in China would be able to have access to all forms of information that are out there, including those that are available online, and that would apply to those who are full-time residents of China as well as those who might be visiting for the Olympics."

The State Department has a continuing dialog with China about freedom of expression, Casey said.

The Olympics are scheduled for August 8 to 24.

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service

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