After Google’s decision to stop censoring content on the Chinese version of their search engine, and threat to completely halt its operations in China, official China has shown a slightly indifferent face.
They’ve issued a two-pronged response which boils down to these two points: first, if you want to do business in China, you have to abide by China’s laws. Second, China will not give up on censoring the Internet.
According to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, “The Chinese government administers the Internet according to law and we have explicit stipulations over what content can be spread on the Internet.” Simply put, Google’s refusal to censor content on their search engine is breaking the law, which probably won’t be tolerated.
Furthermore, director of the State Council Information Office Wang Chen explains China’s rationale for censoring the Internet. “Effective guidance of public opinion on the Internet is an important way of protecting the security of online information,” he said. Well, that really depends on how you define “security of online information”; if you want to keep a piece of information secret from the government, tough luck.
Chen also commented on hacking: “China is a country being harmed by Internet hackers and is firmly opposed to hacking attacks.” But is the Chinese government is allowed to use certain hacking methods in order to “guide the public opinion on the Internet”? Official China doesn’t say.
It’s very unlikely that China will yield on the matter of censorship, and what Google has said in that blog post on Tuesday cannot be unsaid. As it stands now, Google’s days in China might be numbered.