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China silent on Google, welcomes compliant internet firms

Washington worries about other stuff for now

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China went on a wide-ranging charm offensive today to show the world it is open to the internet and is in fact the biggest victim of hacking attacks.

The heartfelt pleas for understanding began the day after Google threatened to up sticks from the world's most populous country after complaining it had been targeted by organised hackers based in China.

As part of the effort to demonstrate its openness, Beijing deployed a raft of state spokespeople, many of them anonymous, to brief state news agency Xinhua.

According to the agency, foreign industry spokesperson Jiang Yu told reporters that "China's internet is open" and the country had tried "creating a favourable environment for internet".

"China welcomes international Internet companies to conduct business within the country according to law," she said. "China's law prohibits cyber crimes including hacker attacks."

However, officials seemed wary of commenting on Google directly. An anonymous official in the State Council Information Office said the authorities were seeking "more information" on Google's decision.

Another anonymous official told the People's Daily that China itself was a victim of cyber attacks, the majority of which came from abroad.

Reuters quoted Minister Wang Chen of China's State Council Information Office, saying that "properly guiding internet opinion is a major measure for protecting Internet information security."

This would of course be anathema to Google, which simply wants to find out everything about you, so that it can guide you to its advertisers.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, there has been little further official comment since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Google's decision raised "very serious concerns".

Some sceptical Reg commenters have suggested that the US will be less than vocal on the issue, given its own recent history of trampling over citizens' civil rights in the war against stuff.

Or it may simply be that with a massive humanitarian crisis on its doorstep in the shape of Haiti, a problem that Google created for itself is not exactly top of Washington's agenda right now. ®

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