Beijing is standing firm in the face of rising worries around the world at its plan to require all new personal computers to incorporate a parental control program from next month. The regulation led to concerns that the central government - known for its draconian controls on the flow of information - would use the program as a back door for censorship. A representative for US software giant Microsoft said: 'Microsoft believes the availability of appropriate parental control tools is an important societal consideration for industry and government around the world. 'At the same time, Microsoft is committed to helping advance the free flow of information and to encouraging transparency, deliberation and restraint with respect to internet governance. In this case, we agree with others ... that important issues such as freedom of expression, privacy, system reliability and security need to be properly addressed.' US computer makers said they were studying the ramifications of the move. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology formally released the regulation yesterday. A media officer said the ministry was not surprised by the strong opposition overseas, noticeably from Microsoft and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. 'Microsoft is always jumpy. There is hardly anything we do that they don't oppose, so we are not surprised at all,' he said. 'But we will respond. A department is drafting an official statement to address their concerns, which will be available soon.' Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang defended the move on moral grounds. 'The Chinese internet is open, but the government will take legal action to prevent the spread of harmful information. Do you know what the software is about? It deals with pornography and violence. Do you have a child? If you do, or if you will, you can understand why our parents are worried about the negative impact of the internet.' Xiao Lijun, a psychiatrist at the People's Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing, said he treated patients addicted to the internet every day. Most were children and he 'loathed the internet and computer giants that drag children into the abyss for business profit'. 'Overseas computer giants don't care about the mental health of youth,' he said. 'They only care about profit, and they have the power to buy overseas media to turn China's move against pornography into something like political censorship. 'The government's action is actually too slow and too limited. The enemy is at the gate.' Zhang Quan, a Chinese Academy of Sciences researcher who participated in the early stage of the program's development, said his research team quit the project because 'we think the artificial-intelligence engine should be used on a public server, rather than a personal computer. Any attempt to mess with personal information will be too sensitive and risky.'