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China's Internet industry group tells members to help censorship

BEIJING (AP) _ China's official Internet industry association is calling on its members to help the government suppress material deemed subversive or immoral.

``Unhealthy information'' online has harmed Chinese children and threatens social stability, the Internet Society of China said in a statement. The 5-year-old group is the government-sanctioned association for Internet service providers and Chinese Web sites.

``We should run our business in a civilized way,'' said the statement issued Wednesday and reported by the government's Xinhua News Agency. ``We should not produce, disseminate and spread information that harms state security, social stability and information that violates laws and regulations and social morality.''

The group called for its 2,600 member companies to supervise content, delete ``unhealthy'' information and oppose acts that undermine ``Internet civilization,'' Xinhua said.

China's communist government encourages Internet use for education and business but tries to block access to sensitive material. The country has the world's second-largest Internet population after the United States with 110 million people online.

The Internet Society statement didn't give any examples of material that members should suppress or say what prompted the appeal.

Chinese online filters have blocked access to foreign sites about Tibet, China's pro-democracy movement, human rights and the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. The government also launches frequent crackdowns on China-based sites with sexually oriented material.

The release of the society's statement coincided with a visit to Beijing by the chief executive of Google Inc., who defended the search engine's decision to cooperate with government censorship. Activists have criticized Mountain View, Calif.-based Google for blocking access to banned material from its Chinese-language site,

``We believe that the decision that we made to follow the law in China was absolutely the right one,'' CEO Eric Schmidt said Wednesday at a news conference.
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