China’s Foreign Ministry has commented on the Google dispute, according to Reuters:
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu pressed the company a little more on Tuesday in comments that suggested scant room for giving way to Google’s demands.
“Foreign firms in China should respect China’s laws and regulations, and respect China’s public customs and traditions, and assume the corresponding social responsibilities, and of course Google is no exception,” Ma told a regular briefing.
Ma did not mention censorship as being among those responsibilities, but other Chinese officials have.
Until now, the Foreign Ministry has avoided mentioning Google’s name in comments on the dispute that has also drawn Washington into demanding an explanation from Beijing.
China Daily has posted a strongly worded editorial questioning Google’s motives:
We don’t yet know about its real intention to quit China. But reasons in its statement are not convincing. And it is too early and overly sensitive on the part of Western media outlets to play it up as a political issue and portray Google as a guardian of human rights and freedom of speech.
Every country has its own rules to censor particular kinds of information on the Internet. We spare no efforts in cracking down on pornographic content on the Internet, which we believe and numerous examples have shown are detrimental to the healthy development of young people.
Google should have been quite clear of the Chinese government rules on the management of the Internet even before it entered the Chinese market. In the four years since it was launched in China in 2006, the Internet has been improving rapidly. It has become an important channel for Chinese people to vent their grievances against corruption and whatever possible wrongs committed by the government at all levels.
If Google considered it feasible to develop its Internet business under Chinese law four years ago, it would be ridiculous for it to feel otherwise when the Internet environment here in China has improved tremendously in terms of censorship.
On his blog, Evan Osnos translates portions of a blog post (since deleted) by Baidu’s Chief Product Design, Sun Yunfeng:
The tone of Google’s chief legal consultant disgusts me. If you withdraw for economic reasons, say it outright. Putting on make-up and saying that Google was attacked by the Chinese and that the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents were attacked, in order to pave the way for its withdraw from China, is a humiliation to Chinese people’s intelligence, though it might really suit Westerners’ fantasies—those who are arrogant, have never been to China, don’t know China but love talk about China.
One assumption: if Google had achieved eighty per cent of China’s search engine market, would the senior management of Google still proclaim, “Do no evil” [sic], and would they still withdraw from China?
The whole thing makes me feel one thing: nauseated.
See also, “Google queries China staff in cyber attacks case” from MarketWatch and “Google-China cyber espionage saga – FAQ” from ZDNet.
Meanwhile, Google refutes rumors that it is already closing up shop in China and laying off staff.
For updates on Google in China, Huffington Post is live blogging the story here.
The Wall Street Journal gives a video primer of how Internet censorship works in China:
Update 2: The New York Times reports that evidence has come to light that links the cyber attacks on Google to a source in China:
In the week since the announcement, several computer security companies have made claims supporting Google’s suspicions, but the evidence has remained circumstantial.
Now, by analyzing the software used in the break-ins against Google and dozens of other companies, Joe Stewart, a malware specialist with SecureWorks, a computer security company based in Atlanta, said he determined the main program used in the attack contained a module based on an unusual algorithm from a Chinese technical paper that has been published exclusively on Chinese-language Web sites.
The malware at the heart of Google attack is described by researchers as a “Trojan horse” that is intended to open a back door to a computer on the Internet. The program, called Hydraq by the computer security research community and intended to subvert computers that run different versions of the Windows operating system, was first noticed earlier this year.