"We are convinced that these companies can still access the Chinese market without betraying their ethical principles," the group said in a statement. "They must however adopt a firm and clear position in relation to the Chinese authorities."
Despite censorship, six out of 10 Chinese users believe the Internet will provide more opportunities for criticizing the Beijing government and nearly half think that going online will help them learn more about politics, according to a survey last fall by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences of Beijing and the Markle Foundation, a New York-based philanthropy that focuses on information technology.
The survey also found that many Chinese believe the Internet will increase political transparency. That premise was confirmed by a separate study by the Canadian Internet Project, which found that more than any other country in the world, people in China see the Internet as giving them more say in government and more political power. By contrast, Americans are less than half as likely to say that.
In all, more than 100 million Chinese access the Internet, less than one-tenth the total population of 1.3 billion. Experts believe the country will soon surpasses the United States as having the most people online.