Google’s dispute with China should not be “over-interpreted” or seen as influencing Sino-US ties, a senior Chinese minister said yesterday before a planned speech by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Internet freedom.
Clinton’s speech planned for Washington yesterday could be seen in Beijing as throwing down a gauntlet, a week after search engine giant Google said it had been the target of sophisticated cyber-spying from China.
“The Google incident should not be linked to bilateral relations, otherwise that would be over-interpreting it,” Xinhua news agency quoted Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei (何亞非) as saying.
“In the year that [US President Barack] Obama has been in office, the development of China-US relations has been basically stable,” He said in comments to Chinese journalists carried on the China Daily’s Web site.
He appeared to be seeking to play down potential fallout from the Google dispute, which could compound tensions with Washington over trade, currency policy, human rights and climate change.
“The Chinese government encourages the development of the Internet in China, but there must be observance of Chinese law,” He said.
“If Google or other foreign firms have any problems in China, these should be resolved according to Chinese law, and the Chinese government is willing to help resolve their problems,” he said.
Google, the world’s top search engine, said it may shut its Chinese-language google.cn Web site and offices in China after a cyber-attack originating from China that also targeted others.
The company also said it would discuss with the Chinese government ways to offer an unfiltered search engine, or pull out. Searches for sensitive topics on google.cn are still largely being censored.
“Managing the Internet is a matter of national security. A lot of countries practise oversight of the Internet, and so does China. It is a very normal thing,” He said.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked in China.
Weighing into the debate, Jack Ma (馬雲), the outspoken chief executive of China’s largest e-commerce firm Alibaba, said this week Google was looking for “excuses” by blaming China.
Ma’s statement at an economic forum in Taiwan were Alibaba’s second condemnation of Google’s face-off with Beijing following charges of the cyber-attack.
“People who fail always make excuses,” Ma said.
“I think there are how many foreign firms that have come to China and fallen, five or six? And there are more than 5,000 fallen Chinese firms,” he said.
“They say they lack government connections, lack money, lack whatever. These are just excuses,” he said.