Chinese internet users flooded the web on Thursday appealing for Google not to close down its operations in the country after the US giant’s ultimatum to Beijing over censorship and cyberattacks.
“It’s not Google that’s withdrawing from China, it’s China that’s withdrawing from the world,” one internet user said on Twitter, a sentiment echoed in other tweets.
Google announced on Tuesday it would possibly pull out of the world’s largest online market, complaining about cyberattacks and censorship by the communist regime.
China-based cyber spies struck the internet giant and reportedly more than 30 other firms in an apparent bid for computer source codes, intellectual property, and information about human rights activists around the world.
Chinese online users have been flooding Twitter even though the micro-blogging website is currently blocked by Beijing — evidence that savvy web surfers can easily circumvent the “Great Firewall of China”.
The authorities in the world’s most populous nation regularly block content and websites they deem politically objectionable in a vast censorship system in a country with an estimated 360-million online users.
Social networking site Facebook and Google’s video-sharing system YouTube are also blocked.
“I’m strongly asking Google to stay, the government is really too overbearing,” said one posting on Baidu.com, Google’s chief rival in China.
“I’m not a worshipper of foreign things, and I deeply love my country, but the government cannot be too excessive!”
On Sina.com, another popular Chinese web portal, reaction was also strong.
“If Google disappears from China, how will intellectuals look for information?” said one online user.
Others, however, were more sceptical.
“They’re bluffing,” one said on Sina.com. “Google’s situation in China was not easy. It’s hard for a capitalist company to adapt in a communist country.”
Another said it would be a mistake for the internet giant to leave China.
“Leaving the Chinese market would indicate the failure of Google in China. The Chinese market is huge, it would even be a mistake on their part,” the online user said.
Google’s announcement was reported in some state-run newspapers on Thursday, although there was no mention of it in the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party mouthpiece.
Meanwhile, China told companies to cooperate with state control of the internet on Thursday, showing no sign of giving ground on censorship after Google threatened to quit the country.
The case could exacerbate tensions between China and the United States, already at odds over the value of the yuan currency, trade disputes and climate-change negotiations. It threw a spotlight on hacking and the internet controls, which have frustrated Google’s business in China.
In a statement posted on the State Council Information Office website, Cabinet spokesperson Wang Chen warned against pornography, cyber-attacks, online fraud and “rumours”, saying that government and internet media have a responsibility to shape public opinion.
The statement said China itself was a victim of hacker attacks, and that Beijing resolutely opposed hacking.
Wang’s comments, Beijing’s first official reaction after Google threatened to quit China over cyber-attacks, gave no indication that China would give ground.
The statement made no direct mention of Google. — AFP, Reuters
Cyber-experts said more than 30 firms were victims of attacks that used tailored emails to deliver malicious software that exploited vulnerabilities in the popular Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software.
The official China Daily described Google’s threat as a “strategy to put pressure on the Chinese government”.
About a dozen Chinese fans of Google held an impromptu candlelight vigil at Google’s Beijing headquarters late on Wednesday. Others had brought bouquets of roses and lilies shortly after Google’s decision was announced.
“Google, wait for you back,” read one note in English, left by “A Chinese”.
He Ye, a woman at the vigil, said finding alternative news would become more difficult if Google pulled out of China.
“If I cannot search for it through Google, I feel I lose a part of my life. So if Google pulls out, it will affect a part of my life,” she said.
Secure commercial environment
US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urged China on Wednesday to ensure a “secure” commercial environment for US companies.
“The recent cyber-intrusion that Google attributes to China is troubling to the US government and American companies doing business in China,” Locke said in a statement.
“This incident should be equally troubling to the Chinese government. The administration encourages the government of China to work with Google and other US companies to ensure a climate for secure commercial operations in the Chinese market,” he said. — Reuters