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China state media: Google decision 'totally wrong'

By Kevin Voigt and Lara Farrar, CNN
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Waiting Beijing's next steps
  • NEW: China's foreign ministry says move won't impact Sino-U.S. relations
  • Google says it will stop censoring search results in China
  • China Daily quotes official: Move "totally wrong"
  • users will be re-routed to an uncensored site in Hong Kong

Beijing and Hong Kong, China (CNN) -- China state media said Google's decision to quit censoring its China Web site "violated its written promise" and was "totally wrong."

In the chess game between Beijing and Google, Google has redirected all search traffic from mainland China to Google's Hong Kong site, rather than pulling out of China. Although Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed over to Beijing in 1997, the region operates with some autonomy and has a free press.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs weighed in on Tuesday, saying Google's moves won't impact Sino-U.S. relations -- despite a raft of editorials in state media over the weekend lambasting Google and accusing the company of having close ties to the Obama administration.

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"The Google incident is just an individual action taken by one company -- I can't see its impact on Sino-U.S. relations unless someone wants to politicize it," said Qin Gang, ministry spokesperson.

"I cannot see its impact on China's international image unless someone wants to make an issue of it," Qin added. "It is not China that has undermined its image but rather it is the Google company itself."

The government wouldn't comment whether Google's actions were legal or if the government planned further action.

The next move may be for China to block access to -- as it has done for Web sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Google quits censoring search in China

"We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services," David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, wrote in a statement posted on the company's official blog.

As of 9:30 p.m. ET, Google users in China could still access but results on politically sensitive search terms, such as "Tiananmen Square massacre" or the outlawed religious group "Falun Gong," were being blocked when searched from Beijing -- suggesting that although Google is no longer self censoring, China state censors of "the Great Firewall" may be.

Google-China move hurts businesses, academics

A similar search in Hong Kong, however, successfully loads searches for controversial terms. Google indicated yesterday in a blog post that using the Hong Kong site could be patchy or slow due to so much traffic being redirected to its servers there.

Google made the announcement on its Web site at 3:03 a.m. local Beijing time (3:03 p.m. ET). China Daily, a state-run media organization, responded with a story four hours later quoting an unnamed official from the Internet bureau under the State Council Information Office.

"Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks," said the official.

"This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicization of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts," the official said.

Instead of shuttering its operations in China, Google plans to continue operating there. "We intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access," wrote Drummond of Google.

The company on Monday also launched a dashboard page, which it promises to update regularly each day, that will show which Google services are available in China. According to the page, YouTube, Google Sites and Google's Blogger apps were blocked, with some others partially blocked, such as Picasa.

Kevin Voigt reported from Hong Kong and Lara Farrar reported from Beijing.