The official put some of the blame for site inaccessibility on an inferior internet infrastructure in China and the fact that millions of Chinese citizens do not have internet access at all.
"In China, we don't have software blocking Internet sites," the official said. "Sometimes we have trouble accessing them, but that's a different problem."
The official also denied that the arrests of several journalists in China had anything to do with freedom of expression, and claimed that BBC web sites were available in China despite many claims to the contrary.
"I'm glad he listens in Geneva, but if he was in central China, he would not be able to listen on short-wave radio and not be able to read our web site," said Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC World Service. "This is very well established. (The BBC web site is) effectively blocked ... and has been for years."
The official's claim is also shattered by evidence such as a Harvard Law School study that found 19,032 web sites that cannot be accessed while in Chinese borders. A joint study by American, British and Canadian universities also reported that "China's Internet-filtering regime is the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world. Compared to similar efforts in other states, China's filtering regime is pervasive, sophisticated and effective." Google even created a censored search engine specifically for Chinese users, called google.cn, to overcome the blocking of its regular page in China.
"This will go down in history as one of the most memorable government lies of all time, right alongside, 'I am not a crook' and 'Weapons of Mass Destruction,'" said Mike Adams, a free speech advocate and creator of the CounterThink political cartoon series. "History has taught us that not only do all governments routinely lie, but that they are flatly incapable of telling the truth."