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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student


China tells Web sites to obey its controls

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

Responding to questions about Google, foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, without mentioning Google by name, said Beijing prohibits e-mail hacking, another issue cited by the company.

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

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

Jiang gave no indication whether the government had talked with Google. The state Xinhua News Agency said earlier it was seeking more information about the announcement.

The main 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.

People’s 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, was quoted as saying, “Companies have to concretely increase the ability of Internet media to guide public opinion in order to uphold Internet safety.”

Thursday, law professor and human rights lawyer Teng Biao wrote on his blog that someone broke into his Gmail account and forwarded e-mail to another account.

“Google leaving China makes people sad, but accepting censorship to stay in China and abandoning its ‘Don’t Be Evil’ principles is more than just sad,” Teng wrote.

Another Beijing human rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, says his Gmail account was hacked in November and important materials taken.

Outside the Google offices, one man left a copy of 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.

“Google is the true hero in this silent city,” said a note left outside the building.
Google’s main U.S. site has a Chinese-language section but Beijing’s filters make it slow and difficult to access in China.

Beijing promotes Internet use for business and education but operates extensive filters to block access to material deemed subversive or pornographic, including sites run by dissidents and human rights groups. Its 338 million users is the world’s largest Internet market.

The Global Times, published by People’s Daily and known for a fiercely nationalistic tone, took an unusually conciliatory stance, warning that Google’s departure would be “lose-lose” for China, saying China’s national influence and competitiveness depend on access to information.

The White House said Wednesday it was briefed by Google on its plans in China but refused to give details. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama made his stance on Internet freedom clear during his trip to China in November, when he told students an open exchange of information makes all countries stronger.

It appeared unlikely other companies might follow Google’s lead and try to change how business is done in China.

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