Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Beijing tells foreign Web companies to obey the law


In China’s first official response to Google’s threat to leave the country, the government yesterday said foreign Internet companies are welcome but must obey the law, giving no hint of a possible compromise over Web censorship.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜), without mentioning Google by name, said Beijing prohibits e-mail hacking, another issue cited by the company. She was responding to questions about Google at a regular ministry briefing.

“China’s Internet is open,” she said. “China welcomes international Internet enterprises to conduct business in China according to law.”

Google said on Tuesday that it would stop censoring search results in China and might shut down its China-based site, citing attempts to break into accounts on its Gmail service used by Chinese human rights activists.

Jiang gave no indication whether the government had talked with Google.

The state Xinhua news agency said earlier officials were seeking more information about its announcement.

The main Chinese Communist Party newspaper warned companies to obey government controls as Web users visited Google’s Beijing offices for a second day to leave flowers and notes expressing support for the company.

Outside the Google offices, some visitors poured small glasses of liquor, a Chinese funeral ritual.

One man left a copy of the People’s Daily, which he said represented the tightly controlled state media that China’s public would be left with if Google pulls out and censorship continues.

Peoples Daily, citing a Cabinet official’s comments in November, said companies must help the government keep the Internet safe and fight online pornography and cyber attacks.

Web companies must abide by “propaganda discipline,” the official, Wang Chen (王晨), was quoted as saying.

“Companies have to concretely increase the ability of Internet media to guide public opinion in order to uphold Internet safety,” he said.

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