China brushes off Google complaint

Foreign Ministry offers little comment on Internet giant

BEIJING -- Despite widespread international attention to Google's threat to quit China over alleged Chinese cyber attacks and government-mandated Internet search censorship, official Beijing offered little reaction this week.

Although U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called on Beijing for an explanation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on Thursday defended the nation's censored Internet as "open."

At a regular press briefing, Jiang answered reporters' questions about the alleged Chinese breach of Google e-mail services.

"Chinese law prohibits any form of cyber attack, including hacking," Jiang said, adding, "China welcomes international Internet companies to do business here."

Google has 33% of China's Internet search market, behind local leader Baidu's 64%, Shanghai-based consultants iResearch said.

Asked if Beijing acknowledged that Google's video-sharing Web site YouTube was blocked in China, Jiang said she was "unaware of this information" and "could not confirm it."

YouTube has been blocked in China since March, when videos of Tibetans rioting against Chinese rule showed up on the service.

Official censors previously called some YouTube content obscene.

On Thursday, Jiang said: "China's government administers the Internet according to the laws which govern what materials may be spread by the Internet."

China employs tens of thousands of "Net nannies" to scour the Internet for content deemed a threat to one-party Communist rule or its leaders' view of a "harmonious society."

Beijing typically does not acknowledge censorship of international Web sites, but frequently makes examples of the local ones it shuts down.

Victor Koo, founder of Youku, one of China's biggest online video-sharing Web sites, stays on the right side of China's Internet laws by working closely with the State Administration of Radio Film and Television. Officials there have always been transparent, he said.

"With local Internet companies, SARFT is clear about what is and is not appropriate," said Koo, whose Beijing-based company employs in-house censors around the clock to make sure the video content served to 30 million unique visitors daily is professionally-produced and politically correct.

Jiang deflected reporters' repeated questions about Google's allegation, suggesting that they be directed to the "relevant authorities." She would not name said authorities and calls to SARFT went unanswered on Thursday.