China defends its right to censor web

In the wake of the recent declaration by Google that it will be refusing to censor search results in China any more, all eyes have been on the Asian superpower for its response. That response has now arrived, with multiple government departments issuing statements.

"Effective guidance of public opinion on the Internet is an important way of protecting the security of online information", said Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, in a Q&A session posted on the office's website. He pointed out that in 2008 hacking attacks against China rose 148%, and called on other countries to crack down on pornographic websites.

China welcomes international enterprises to operate Internet services "in accordance with the law", added Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, adding that hacking is against the law in China. She declined, however, to say whether government departments are above that law or not.

An analyst quoted by Bloomberg, Duncan Clark from Beijing-based BDA China, said that Wang's statements suggested that China wasn't going to budge on the issue. "Google.cn is toast", he said. "Just keep pressing refresh on your browser and see what happens".

Since the announcement, Google's shares have sunk slightly whereas Chinese rival Baidu's have rocketed. Chinese news portals did cover Google's announcement, but briefly and without mention of the free speech aspects of the protest. Outside Google's offices in Beijing, young people have been placing bouquets and notes in front of the multicoloured logo of the company.

Update: All Google China workers have reportedly been given holiday leave as the networks are tested for security.