WASHINGTON (AFP) — Yahoo! chief executive Carol Bartz staunchly defended the Internet company's business practices in China on Thursday and said it was "not our job to fix the Chinese government."
Bartz, appearing at her first shareholders meeting since taking over the Sunnyvale, California-based company in January, said Yahoo! respects human rights.
"We actually hosted a business and human rights summit for high tech companies a month or so ago," she said. "Yahoo! has gone overboard on this point to really be sympathetic, serious and so forth.
"We have done a lot," she said.
"The board does its best, the company does its best to run a good business, to look out for our population around the world, both the people who work for us and the people who come to visit us," she said. "That?s our commitment."
Bartz added that Yahoo! "was not incorporated to fix China."
"It was incorporated to give people a free flow of information," she said.
A number of US companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Yahoo!, have been hauled before the US Congress in recent years and accused of complicity in building what has been called the "Great Firewall of China."
Yahoo! was thrust into the forefront of the online rights issue after the company helped Chinese police identify cyber dissidents whose supposed crime was expressing their views online.
Alluding to the case, Bartz said: "Ten years ago the company made a mistake, and you can?t hold us up as the bad boy forever.
"We have worked better, harder, faster than most companies to respect human rights and to try and make a difference," she said.
"But it is not our job to fix the Chinese government, it?s that simple.
"We will respect human rights, we will do what?s right, but we're not going to take on every government in the world as our mandate," she said. "That?s not the mandate that the shareholders gave us."
Yahoo!, other technology giants and a coalition of human rights and other groups unveiled a code of conduct last year aimed at safeguarding online freedom of speech and privacy.
China exercises strict control over the Internet, blocking sites linked to Chinese dissidents, the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, the Tibetan government-in-exile and those with information on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
China and Google are currently engaged in a dispute, with Beijing accusing the Internet giant of providing links to pornography in its Web searches.
And the United States called on China on Wednesday to drop a new requirement for all computers to carry Internet filtering software.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said China may be violating World Trade Organization obligations by requiring that all computers sold in the country from July 1 have the "Green Dam" program.
Beijing says the software will filter out pornography, protecting young people within the world's largest online population.
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