China affirms control over Internet

BEIJING (Reuters) - China told companies to cooperate with state control of the Internet on Thursday, showing no sign of giving ground on censorship after U.S. Internet giant Google threatened to quit the country.

The case could exacerbate tensions between China and the United States, already at odds over the value of the yuan currency, trade disputes and climate change negotiations. It threw a spotlight on hacking and the Internet controls which have frustrated Google’s business in China.

Google, the world’s top search engine, said on Tuesday it would not abide by censorship and may shut its Chinese-language website because of attacks from China on human rights activists using its Gmail service and on dozens of companies.

In a statement posted on the State Council Information Office website, cabinet spokesman Wang Chen warned against pornography, cyber-attacks, online fraud and “rumors,” saying that government and Internet media have a responsibility to shape public opinion.

The statement said China itself was a victim of hacker attacks, and that Beijing resolutely opposed hacking.

Wang’s comments, Beijing’s first official reaction after Google threatened to quit China over cyber-attacks, gave no indication that China -- which has the world’s biggest number of Internet users at 360 million -- would give ground.

The statement made no direct mention of Google.


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Cyber-experts said over 30 firms were victims of attacks that used tailored emails to deliver malicious software that exploited vulnerabilities in the popular Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software.

The official China Daily described Google’s threat as a “strategy to put pressure on the Chinese government.”

About a dozen Chinese fans of Google held an impromptu candlelight vigil at Google’s Beijing headquarters late on Wednesday. Others had brought bouquets of roses and lilies shortly after Google’s decision was announced.

“Google, wait for you back,” read one note in English, left by “A Chinese.”

He Ye, a woman at the vigil, said finding alternative news would become more difficult if Google pulled out of China.

“If I cannot search for it through Google, I feel I lose a part of my life. So if Google pulls out, it will affect a part of my life,” she said.


U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urged China on Wednesday to ensure a “secure” commercial environment for U.S. companies.

“The recent cyber intrusion that Google attributes to China is troubling to the U.S. government and American companies doing business in China,” Locke said in a statement.

“This incident should be equally troubling to the Chinese government. The administration encourages the government of China to work with Google and other U.S. companies to ensure a climate for secure commercial operations in the Chinese market,” he said.

Additional reporting by Melanie Lee in Shanghai and Jimmy Guan and Benjamin Kang Lim in Beijing; Editing by Jeremy Laurence