China state media accuses Google of political agenda

BEIJING Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:18am EDT

A man walks past the Google logo in front of its China headquarters building in Beijing March 19, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Lee

A man walks past the Google logo in front of its China headquarters building in Beijing March 19, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's state media on Sunday accused Google Inc of pushing a political agenda by "groundlessly accusing the Chinese government" of supporting hacker attacks and by trying to export its own culture, values and ideas.

In a commentary signed by three Xinhua writers, the state news agency also sought to defend the government's Internet censorship, which Google has cited as one reason the world's largest search engine may quit China.

"Regrettably, Google's recent behaviors show that the company not just aims at expanding business in China, but is playing an active role in exporting culture, value and ideas.

"It is unfair for Google to impose its own value and yardsticks on Internet regulation to China, which has its own time-honored tradition, culture and value."

On Friday, the China Business News reported that Google may make an announcement as early as Monday on whether it will pull out of China.

Two months ago, Google said it had been the target of sophisticated hacking attacks originating from inside China, and the company said it would no longer agree to abide by Beijing's censorship rules even if that meant shutting down its Google.cn site.

Since then, the two sides have reportedly been at a standoff, although Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, said he hoped to have an outcome soon from talks with Chinese officials.

China requires Internet operators to block words and images the ruling Communist Party deems unacceptable, including those involving politically sensitive topics.

Beijing has also entirely blocked internationally popular websites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

In the Xinhua commentary, the writers accused Google of violating international norms.

"In fact, no country allows unrestricted flow on the Internet of pornographic, violent, gambling or superstitious content, or content on government subversion, ethnic separatism, religious extremism, racialism, terrorism and anti-foreign feelings," the commentary stated.

As in other disputes with foreign businesses and governments, the commentary said China's stance in this case was a "pure internal affair."

The writers said China's Internet development would prosper without Google, while the company would be the "biggest loser."

"Whether it leaves or not, the Chinese government will keep its Internet regulation principles unchanged. One company's ambition to change China's Internet rules and legal system will only prove to be ridiculous.

"And whether leaving or not, Google should not continue to politicalize itself, as linking its withdrawal to political issues will lose Google's credibility among Chinese netizens."

Although it is the global leader, Google operates at a distant second place to Baidu Inc, China's domestic search engine leader, which has benefitted from the dispute.

Baidu's shares have surged more than 44 percent since Google's announcement that it could pull out of China, while Google's stock has fallen roughly 6.3 percent.

(Reporting by Ken Wills; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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