China accuses Google of "politicizing commercial issues"
China on Tuesday accused US internet giant Google Inc of "politicizing commercial issues" by suspending its main Chinese website and redirecting it to an uncensored Google site in Hong Kong.
"Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks," an unnamed official in charge of the government's internet bureau said, dpa reported.
"This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conduct," the official said in a statement carried by state media.
Google's move Monday followed its announcement on January 12 that it would stop censoring its Chinese search results after discovering a cyber attack that originated in China and attempts to compromise Chinese human rights activists.
The Chinese official said the government "talked with Google twice at its request" about the issues on January 29 and February 25.
"We made patient and meticulous explanations on the questions Google raised ... telling it we would still welcome its operation and development in China if it was willing to abide by Chinese laws," the official was quoted as saying.
Analysts said Google's move could mean that it might be frozen out of the largest internet market in the world, even though at the moment it provides only a fraction of Google's vast income.
According to Analysis International, Google had 36 per cent of the Chinese market last year, trailing local search company Baidu, which abides by government censorship rules and has 58 per cent of the market.
Google said it would continue to conduct research and development work in China and also continue to operate its advertising sales teams in the country. But it conceded that the Chinese government could decide to block access to Google's Hong Kong site.
"We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement," Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said in a blog post on Monday.
"We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced, it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China," Drummond said.
Google said it plans to create a new web page to track which Google services are available in China, and which are being blocked by the Chinese government.