Google dispute progress unclear

By WANG XING (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-09 07:59
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Google dispute progress unclear
Li Yizhong, minister of MIIT, is surrounded by journalists as he walks into the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last Friday. [Zhang Wei / China Daily] 

Minister delivers ambiguous comments

BEIJING: The Chinese government's ambiguous expressions on whether Google was in talks with the country have put a cloud over the search engine's further development in China during the past three days.

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And the words of a top official from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Monday make the atmosphere even murkier.

Li Yizhong, minister of MIIT, told reporters on Monday that Google must abide by Chinese laws and respect the wills of Chinese Internet users, if it still plans to continue its operations in China.

When asked whether Google was in talks with China, the 65-year-old minister said, "On this matter, Google knows it best itself."

The remarks were a sharp contrast to Li's earlier remarks last Friday, when he told reporters on the sidelines of the National People's Congress that the ministry is in talks with Google to resolve their dispute.

But Miao Wei, vice-minister of MIIT, said during a formal group interview with reporters: "We have never received a request from Google for any negotiations and neither have we had any direct contact with them."

The vice-minister was apparently answering the question based on a printed response.

Google declined on Monday to comment on this report, but an employee from Google's local public relations firm told China Daily that they are also puzzled by the ambiguous expression from the government.

It remains unclear how Google's high-profile spat with the Chinese government is going. But Chinese officials have made two things seemingly clear in past remarks: the government is unlikely to give special treatment to Google on its request to provide unfiltered search results, and the country apparently does not want the Google issue to become a political dispute.

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