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China swings at Clinton as Schmidt fudges exit plan

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China has hit back at criticism from Google and Hillary Clinton accusing them of cultural imperialism by insisting that their view of freedom of information is somehow universal.

In an editorial Global Times said: "The US campaign for uncensored and free flow of information on an unrestricted Internet is a disguised attempt to impose its values on other cultures in the name of democracy."

The article added that most of the information coming from the West is full of "aggressive rhetoric" aimed at countries which failed to follow their policies. It went on: "When it comes to information content, quantity, direction and flow, there is absolutely no equality and fairness."

Therefore, the article argued, online freedom is actually a one-way street for less developed nations - they can only be passive receivers of information.

Countries put at this disadvantage had to take action to protect their national interests, not just to maintain political stability but also for normal social and economic activity, the editorial added.

The paper then addressed Google's recent noises about closing its Chinese search business and claimed that the vast majority of Chinese people "do not want free flow of information". It said: "Western countries have long indoctrinated non-Western nations on the issue of freedom of speech. It is an aggressive political and diplomatic strategy, rather than a desire for moral values, that has led them to do so."

Meanwhile Google's boss Eric Schmidt told the FT that closing its search business did not mean the company had any intention of leaving the country entirely.

He said: "We have lots of other business opportunities in China - we would like them to be successful."

Schmidt would not say how negotiations with the Chinese government were going but insisted the firm was still intent on ending censorship of results.

The comments do not make any clearer what Google is trying to achieve here. Ending its search business in China, where it trails local rival Baidu, will not stop hack attacks on its Gmail servers.

Nor is it likely to have much impact on the Chinese government or people. It's time Google either took its toys home or accepted the dirty dealing necessary when dealing with any government. ®

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