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Google case 'not linked to Sino-US ties'

By Zhang Haizhou and Cheng Guangjin (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-22 07:46
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Google case 'not linked to Sino-US ties'

A Google employee makes a call in the multinational's Beijing office building. [China Daily] 

Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei said yesterday that the Google case is just a law issue and shouldn't be "over-interpreted".

"The Google case should not be linked with relations between the two governments and countries; otherwise, it's an over-interpretation," He told a press conference.

If foreign companies, including Google, encounter difficulties in China, they should seek solutions in accordance with Chinese law. The Chinese government is willing to offer help, he said.

The official said many countries have "Internet supervision" in place as it concerns national security, and "China is no exception".

"If foreign companies have different viewpoints, they should seek solutions according to the law," He added.

Last week, Google said it might abandon its Chinese search engine and possibly leave the country altogether over what it called a "highly sophisticated" attack by China-based hackers and state censorship.

Despite Chinese officials' repeated claims that the Google case is just a matter of law, analysts said the issue of whether the company should withdraw from China or not has already been "politicized".

"It has been politicized. It is not just a simple business issue," said Yuan Peng, head of US studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

He's remarks came just before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a major policy speech on Internet freedom in Washington yesterday.

"Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation. In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's networks can be an attack on all," Clinton said.

"Clinton's speech means the government is backing up Google," Yuan said.

Yesterday's speech was Clinton's second statement on the Google case. She already asked China for clarification on Wednesday last week.

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Clinton was "looking for more trouble" by giving another speech "to criticize China", said Shi Yinhong, a US-studies expert at the Renmin University of China.

Yuan pointed out that the US State Department has "close interaction" with Google, which was the fourth biggest donor to US President Barack Obama's administration.

Obama is actually a "cyber president", said Zhao Kejin, an expert on Sino-US ties at Beijing-based Tsinghua University. "(The US government) is trying to use the case as a political issue to bash China."

Obama has shown a much stronger interest in the cyber world than any of his predecessors. He is the first US president to open a "blog" on the official website of the White House.

"China should have its own e-diplomacy and virtual diplomacy strategy," Zhao said.

Zhao said China should explain clearly what the so-called Internet censorship is, otherwise the US would "equal it" restricting cyber freedom. "We are actually aiming at blocking violence and pornography," Zhao said.