UPDATE 1-China says Google "totally wrong" on censoring move

Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:53pm EDT

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* China attacks Google

* Tough line signalled

BEIJING, March 23 (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday that Google Inc had violated a "written promise" and was "totally wrong" to end censorship of its Chinese-language search portal, signalling a tough line over the Internet dispute.

An unnamed official from China's State Council Information Office, which helps oversee Internet rules, made the comments after Google started redirecting users of its China mainland-based Google.cn site to a portal in Hong Kong, ending self-censorship of its Chinese-language searches.

The official's comments suggested Google could not expect an easy time from mainland authorities, over two months after the company said it would no longer accept self-censorship of its Google.cn site and was also alarmed by sophisticated hacking attacks coming from China.

"Google has violated the written promise it made on entering the Chinese market," the official said, according to a report from the China News Service, a state-run news agency.

"It is totally wrong in halting (censorship) filtering of its search provider and also making aspersions and accusations towards China about hacking attacks", said the official.

"We firmly oppose politicising commercial issues, and express our dissatisfaction and anger at Google Inc's unreasonable accusations and practices," said the official.

The State Council Information Office is the government arm of China's propaganda apparatus, and is among several agencies overseeing Internet policy for the ruling Communist Party.

China censors the Internet by requiring domestic operators to use filters to screen out banned images and words, and also operates a "firewall" to frustrate users trying to access overseas websites that are deemed unacceptable.

The official said that Chinese government officials held talks with Google twice -- on Jan. 29 and Feb. 25 -- to discuss the dispute.

In those talks, China warned Google that if it chose to shut its China-based search portal, it would have to do so according to Chinese law and also ensure that left-over problems were handled "responsibly," said the report.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley, editing by Tim Pearce)

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