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Internet watchdog chief remains ambiguous over Facebook’s friend request – South China Morning Post (subscription)

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The head of the country’s internet watchdog yesterday rejected claims that he ever said Facebook could not enter the mainland – while at the same not confirming whether it could. Photo: Reuters

The head of the country’s internet watchdog yesterday rejected claims that he ever said Facebook could not enter the mainland – while at the same not confirming whether it could.

But Lu Wei, the director of the Cyberspace Administration – formerly the State Internet Information Office – did confirm reports that guidelines for smartphone applications would be introduced soon because some apps “were not in the interests of some users”.

Lu insisted that quotes attributed to him recently saying that Facebook could not enter the mainland were false.

“I have never said Facebook couldn’t enter China. Nor did I say it could enter China,” he said.

“I have never used Facebook. I am not aware that it has been closed down, but I think it may be true that some websites are inaccessible.”

Lu said foreign internet companies entering China must, at the basic level, comply with Chinese laws and regulations.

“First, you can’t damage the national interests of the country. Second, you cannot damage benefits to Chinese consumers,” he said.

“What we cannot accept is those who get into China’s market and make money from it, yet hurt China at the same time.

“We welcome all internet companies that follow Chinese laws to enter China.”

His remarks came after Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in Shanghai last week that the company was “already in China” because it was helping Chinese companies increase their overseas exposure.

Facebook has been inaccessible on the mainland since 2009.

Other global social media sites including Twitter, YouTube and Instagram have been blocked more recently by the Communist Party.

Lu yesterday pledged to “govern online space in accordance with the law”, as laid out in the party’s fourth plenum which wrapped up last week.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Internet watchdog chief not saying yes or no to Facebook’s friend request

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