Chinese media organs lashed out at Google (GOOG) in an apparently coordinated assault on Saturday -- with one paper suggesting Google is linked to the U.S. intelligence agencies -- just days before the Web giant may announce plans to close its Chinese-language search engine.
The attacks -- which came in the form of media commentaries -- came one day after a Chinese business newspaper said Google would on Monday announce plans to close its search engine on April 10.
The Chinese media broadsides have exacerbated an already tense situation in which Google and the Chinese government are locked in a stare-down over Web censorship. Two months after Google declared it would no longer comply with Chinese filtering rules, the government shows no signs of backing away from its position: Follow the law, or get out.
China to Google: We Don't Need You
Google remains defiant, a fact that appears to have annoyed China's communist leaders, who frequently use the media to advance their agenda. At least two of the statements were in English, suggesting that Chinese authorities are interested in sending a message to Americans. And it's a pretty simple one: China doesn't need Google.
"To stay or to leave, that is Google's decision," editorialized China Radio International. "China's Internet market with 400 million users can only and will grow stronger. Maybe Google is preparing to retreat, and maybe it is still hesitating. But one thing is clear: China won't let its regulations or laws bend to any companies' threats."
Meanwhile, the state-run Xinhua news agency slammed Google in an editorial and accused it of ties to U.S. intelligence agencies.
"Some Chinese Internet users who prefer to use Google still don't realize perhaps that due to the links between Google and the American intelligence services, search histories on Google will be kept and used by the American intelligence agencies," Xinhua said, as cited by Agence France Press.
The English-language China Daily wrote in a comment that "Chinese netizens did not expect the Google issue to snowball into a political minefield and become a tool in the hands of vested interests abroad to attack China under the pretext of Internet freedom. It continued:
China's regulation to censor the content that Google provides to Chinese Internet users has been interpreted as a breach to freedom in the virtual world. In some extreme cases, the vested interests have described the legitimate right of the Chinese government to regulate companies and control pornographic and related content as "spying" on its own people.
The magnitude of this absurdity is beyond comprehension and the motivated attacks, intolerable.
The attacks cannot be justified even if seen from Western perspective. Many countries censor the Internet to protect the interests of innocent users. Also, it goes without saying that a foreign company should abide by the laws and regulations of the country that it is operating and making a profit in.
The Chinese are enjoying unprecedented freedom in the country's more than 5,000 years of history. All the country's newly found wealth has been created by the hands of the ordinary Chinese. The country would not have been able to perform an economic miracle if its people were unhappy with their administration and the social and political conditions.
So if the vested interests' accusation that the Chinese government censors the Internet to spy on its own people does not originate from ignorance then it is a white lie and a malicious attack.
It will not do any good to Google either. And by linking its exit from China with political issues, Google will certainly lose its credibility in a country that has the largest number of netizens.
In another attack, the English language website of China Radio international published a scathing comment calling Google "ridiculous and arrogant."
Google's actions show that the world's biggest search engine company has abandoned its business principles and instead shows the world a face that is totally politicized.
First, it claims without any evidence that the Chinese government has supported hackers' attacks against it. Then it threatened to pull out of the Chinese market if the government doesn't compromise on Internet regulations. Finally, American politicians and government institutions spoke up to back the company up and show the world a slapstick comedy, said a commentary by Xinhua News Agency.
As a hi-tech company famous for its innovation, Google's deviation from the principle that the business world has long been sticking to and its politicized actions make people can't help but doubt whether the firm is still doing business independently and what its backers really want.
Having been in operation for four years with a very nice Chinese name, "Guge," Google must know that it should abide by laws and regulations in each country if it wants to do business there. Only by doing this can it become localized and win good market share as well as gain profits.
No country will allow information about subversion, separation, racialism and terrorism to circulate in it through the Internet. Sovereignty and borders also exist in cyberspace, which will need to be watched by each country's laws and regulations.
It is a great pity that the Google case told us the company's aim of entering the Chinese market seems not for commercial reasons but to act as a tool to penetrate into the Chinese culture as well as into Chinese people's values.
Google's relations with the US government cannot be deeper. US media has said Google was the fourth-largest supporter of Barack Obama in his election campaign. Four of the company's former executives including Sumit Agarwal, who was the product manager for Google Mobile team and is currently deputy assistant secretary of defense, are now serving the US government.
American politicians may be glad to see Google being politicized but this is no doubt a tragedy for a famous multinational company which has gained its reputation and advantages by one innovation after another in the Internet field.
How can people believe that the company's search results are without any bias when it lacks independence as well as business ethics?
China's openness to the world is widely seen. China will also make every effort to perfect its regulations on the Internet, but this is the country's internal affair, as it is in other countries.
To stay or to leave, that is Google's decision. China's Internet market with 400 million users can only and will grow stronger.
Maybe Google is preparing to retreat, and maybe it is still hesitating. But one thing is clear: China won't let its regulations or laws bend to any companies' threats.
It is ridiculous and arrogant for an American company to attempt to change China's laws. The country doesn't need a politicized Google or Google's politics.
After Saturday's attacks, it's become clear that the Chinese government appears to be finished negotiating -- and starting to grow annoyed. Google continues to have no comment -- but it's high time the company made its intentions public.