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China stands firm on Internet security amid Google drama

 

By Xinhua writer Miao Xiaojuan

BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- China Thursday insisted its stand for an open Internet under proper regulating following Google's widely-concerned statement of a possible retreat from the country.

"The Internet is open in China, where the government always encourages its development and has created a favorable environment for its healthy development," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular press conference.

Responding to a question on Google's claim to quit China, Jiangsaid China, like other countries, shall regulate the Internet industry in line with the law.

"China welcomes international Internet companies to conduct business within the country according to law," she said.

Her comment was China's first official response after Google's corporate development and chief legal officer, David Drummond, wrote on the company's official blog site, saying the company was to "review the feasibility of our business operations in China."

The post said its disputes with the government and unidentified attacks targeting Google's services in China forced the company to make the review and possibly to "shut down Google.cn" and potentially its China offices.

Jiang said China's law "prohibits hacker attacks in any form."

Also on Thursday, Wang Chen, director of China's State Council Information Office, said China firmly opposed cyber attacks because China itself is a victim of such attacks.

In an interview with the People's Daily, the official said every country needs to "effectively" regulate the Internet and to make sure their own problems on the web do not affect other countries.

"Internet security has become a significant problem that does not only involve China but also other countries," Wang said.

Experts interviewed by Xinhua questioned Google's real intentions.

"It is obvious that any website could be attacked by hackers, either in China or other countries. Cyberattacks can't be the real reason for Google's possible retreat," said Sun Zhe, director of the China-U.S. Relations Center at Tsinghua University.

Baidu.com, China's top search engine and Google's biggest rival in the country, had been temporarily paralyzed for more than three hours Tuesday after being attacked. Its domain name server in the United States had been illegally attacked, the company said in a statement.

"Cyberattack is a headache for local and overseas major websites. Google should provide its evidence or clues on these attacks to Chinese authorities, so that both sides work together on this common problem," Sun said.

As for its disputes with the government, Google had been blamed for showing too many links to pornographic contents and breaking Chinese laws.

In a series of national anti-online porn campaigns last year, Google acted quickly in cleaning up pornographic searching results on Google.cn, upon requests from the Chinese authorities.

The experts argued that Internet regulation was a common practice in most countries.

Liu Deliang, head of the Beijing-based Asia-Pacific Institute for Cyber-law Studies, said both China and the United States had laws and regulations on Internet but only in different ways.

"The U.S. government only wants to keep children away from porn, while the Chinese government wants nobody to have access to porn," Liu said.

Google appeared to have followed government rules in its own country. In March 2008, Google reportedly removed the images of U.S. military bases from its mapping service upon orders from the U.S. government.

"U.S. authorities also have information classified and filtered via technical methods, and they have regulations on media contents and operation too," said Yao Huanqing, associate professor from Law School of Renming University of China.

While many Internet users in China were dismayed by Google's announcement, some suspected if Google's latest move was made out of concerns of economic benefits and market share.

A blogger named Sarah Lacy said in a post on techcrunch.com that Google's business was not doing well in China, quoting Google China's former head Kai-fu Lee as saying the company was never going to substantially increase its market share or beat Baidu.

"Google has clearly decided doing business in China isn't worth it, and is turning what would be a negative into a marketing positive for its business in the rest of the world," the blogger said.

Liu Dan, a researcher with a Beijing-based consulting company affiliated to the China Center for Information Industry Development, said Google's strategy of localizing and marketing was not as good as its technology.

According to the iResearch Consulting Group, the Chinese search engine market reached nearly seven billion yuan (about one billion U.S. dollars) in 2009, and Google took 32.8 percent in Q3 revenues while China's Baidu claimed 63.8 percent.

"It should be a business decision for a company to quit an overseas market or not, but now the Google case has been overstated," Sun Zhe said.

"As China has a quite relaxed environment now, its principle on Internet security is impossible to change. The choice is only leftto Google," he said.

(Xinhua correspondents Niu Qi, Cheng Zhuo, Wang Cong, Yu Xiaojie, Liu Juhua and Ma Shukun in Beijing contributed to the story.)

 


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