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Chinese official media slams Google withdrawal threat as ‘arrogant’

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Chinese official media slams Google withdrawal threat as ‘arrogant’

Sunday, March 21, 2010

••• China’s official media on Saturday slammed U.S. Internet giant Google Inc. as “arrogant” for threatening to pull out of the Chinese market if the government doesn’t compromise on its Internet regulations.

“Maybe Google is preparing to retreat, and maybe it is still hesitating. But one thing is clear: China won’t let its regulations or laws bend to any companies’ threats,” said a commentary carried by the China Daily.

“It is ridiculous and arrogant for an American company to attempt to change China’s laws. The country doesn’t need a politicized Google or Google’s politics.” it said.

The strongly worded attack came after Google, the world’s largest Internet search engine, said in January it was contemplating a withdrawal on account of China’s attempts to further limit free speech in cyberspace and China-based cyber attacks and surveillance activities.

It declared it was “no longer willing to continue censoring” its search results on Google.cn and said it would enter into discussions with the Chinese government on “the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was recently quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying at a media summit in Abu Dhabi that the company remained in “active negotiations” with Beijing and that “something will happen soon.”

Reports appearing in Chinese media this week cited sources as saying Google may announce early next week its plans to close all or part of its operations in China in April.

Amid dimming hope for a compromise, Saturday’s commentary suggested China is far from willing to concede by allowing unfiltered search engines to operate in the country.

“No country will allow information about subversion, separation, racialism and terrorism to circulate in it through the Internet.” it said. “Sovereignty and borders also exist in cyberspace, which will need to be watched by each country’s laws and regulations.”
Google.cn is the second most popular search engine in China with 338 million users, after Baidu.com, a local search engine commonly said to be China’s answer to the search engine giant.

Together, the two companies account for 96.3 percent of an online search engine industry estimated at 6.95 billion Chinese yuan (about $1 billion) in 2009, although Google lags far behind with only about a third of the total market.

The commentary said Google “must know that it should abide by laws and regulations in each country if it wants to do business there. Only by doing this can it become localized and win good market share as well as gain profits.”

Prior to its January declaration, Google had been criticized by free speech advocates for cooperating with the government in censoring search results with politically sensitive content.

It had maintained that the benefits of its presence, including increased access to information for Chinese users, outweighed the cost of censoring some results.

The commentary appeared to suggest that Google’s recent change of heart has less to do with alleged Chinese government support for hacking attacks against it, for which it said Google has no evidence, and more to do with its becoming politicized under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Google’s relations with the U.S. government cannot be deeper,” it said, noting that Google was the fourth-largest supporter of Obama in his election campaign and that former Google executives are now serving in positions in his government.

“Google’s actions show that the world’s biggest search engine company has abandoned its business principles and instead shows the world a face that is totally politicized,” it said.

“How can people believe that the company’s search results are without any bias when it lacks independence as well as business ethics?”

With or without Google, the commentary said, “China’s Internet market with 400 million users can only and will grow stronger.”
• Source(s): Xinhua News Agency (China) & Japanese Press
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