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Beijing Appears Firm on Google

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China's Internet is open and the government welcomes international companies, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, a day after Google said it may pull out of the country.

"China has tried creating a favorable environment for the Internet ... China, like other countries, administers the Internet according to law," spokesperson Jiang Yu said at a regular briefing.

"Relevant measures taken by the Chinese government are consistent with international conventions."

Experts said the comments indicate the government will by no means compromise on Google's demand for totally uncensored operations.

Google -- the world's largest search engine -- said in a statement Wednesday that it is considering exiting China as it detected a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" from China.

It said it was discussing with the Chinese government the possibility of operating an unfiltered search engine within the law, which may well mean having to shut down

Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based military strategist, said a totally free cyberspace full of pornography and other information endangering social stability is unacceptable to the government.

"Foreign firms in China should respect local law ... Google must make sure that illegal and harmful content is not available."

Wang Chen, the State Council Information Office minister, told People's Daily yesterday that China would by no means let online pornography, fraud and rumors contaminate cyberspace.

"China is a victim of cyber attacks and firmly opposes cyber attacks," he said, adding that in 2008, cyber attacks targeting the Chinese mainland from overseas grew by 148 percent. Google was not mentioned in the interview.

With many Chinese users worried their life will be impacted if Google totally retreated from the country, a Google press officer said that it is possible the pullout is limited to

"The only thing we have announced is this If it is impossible to operate an uncensored service within the law, we will close

"We will obviously continue to offer Chinese-language search on our global search engine," he said.

Pang Zhongying, an expert on American studies at Renmin University, said the incident is likely to be a new card for Washington in diplomatic negotiations with Beijing. He was referring to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking for an explanation from Beijing on the alleged cyber attacks.

(China Daily January 15, 2010)