Google's Schmidt urges N. Korea Internet freedom

Google chairman Eric Schmidt said Thursday he had told North Korea it would not develop unless it embraces Internet freedom, as he returned from a controversial visit to the communist state.

Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations who led the trip, said he called on Pyongyang to adopt a moratorium on ballistic missile and nuclear tests following its widely criticised rocket launch last month.

Talks were also held about an American citizen who is being detained in the country, he told reporters at Beijing airport, after speculation that he could return with the man, Kenneth Bae.

Efforts to "strongly urge" North Korea, a highly secretive and tightly-controlled country, to increase the use of the Internet were "the main success of the visit", the former New Mexico governor said.

Schmidt said he told North Korean officials they should open up the country's Internet "or they will remain behind".

"As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically," Schmidt said.

"Once the Internet starts, citizens in a country can certainly build on top of it. The government has to do something. It has to make it possible for people to use the Internet which the government in North Korea has not yet done."

The North has a domestic Intranet service with a very limited number of users. Analysts say access to the Internet is for the super-elite only, meaning a few hundred people or maybe 1,000 at most.

Last week in a surprise New Year address North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said improving the economy through science and technology was a key goal.

But experts said Internet freedom in the tightly controlled country was a distant possibility.

"Most people in North Korea do not know what is going on in the outside world, so to have access to this through the Internet would be a shock to the system," said Brian Bridges, of Hong Kong's Lingnan University.

The US State Department had voiced concern about the trip, saying it was ill-timed in the wake of the North's rocket launch.

Pyongyang said its aim was to put a scientific satellite into orbit, but Washington and other nations called it a disguised ballistic missile test.

"We strongly urged the North Koreans to proceed with a moratorium on ballistic missiles and possible nuclear test," Richardson said.

The delegation did not meet leader Kim but had a "series of very frank discussions" with officials on "the current level of tension in the peninsula", he said, adding: "The North Koreans need to temper their nuclear development."

Richardson has been to the North several times in the past two decades and has been involved in negotiating the release of US citizens detained there.

During the latest trip there were discussions about Bae, an American of Korean descent who was arrested in November, but the delegation did not meet him personally as he was being held too far from Pyongyang, Richardson said.

"We were informed that his health was good and that the judicial proceedings would start soon. That is encouraging," he added.

Bae, 44, entered the country as a tourist, according to the North's official news agency, which said he had admitted committing a crime against the state.

The official agency has described the high-profile visitors as a Google delegation.

Richardson last visited the North in 2010 when he met its chief nuclear negotiator to try and ease tensions after the country shelled a South Korean border island.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral
    China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral

    China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top US Navy admiral told US lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of …

  • 13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital
    13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital

    Thirteen of the 15 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen who survived the bloody firefight with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano last month are ready to go home after a month of medical treatment, a police official said yesterday. Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the two remaining survivors will have to stay in hospital for further treatment, one of whom has shrapnel embedded near his spine. One of the two SAF commando survivors is still …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options