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China state media step up rhetoric against Google

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
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Google leaving China?
  • Chinese state media launched a fresh volley of articles attacking Google
  • Comes amid media reports the Internet giant may soon leave the country
  • Reports suggest Google is becoming "politicized" and flouting China law

Hong Kong, China (CNN) -- Chinese state media launched a fresh volley of articles attacking the "politicization" of Google after media reports suggest the Internet giant may soon officially pull out of China.

A Saturday editorial in China Daily, state media's English-language newspaper, headlined "China Doesn't Need a Politicized Google," began: "Google's actions show that the world's biggest search engine company has abandoned its business principles and instead shows the world a face that is totally politicized."

The sentiment was echoed by Xinhua news agency in a Sunday editorial: "Google, don't politicize yourself."

The editorials continued on Monday morning in a China Daily editorial entitled: "The biggest loser." Beginning with "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," the editorial harkened back to colonial eras in describing Google's threat to quit censoring its China Internet search engine.

"This is the convention for proper behavior for companies conducting business in a foreign country. Compliance with the country's laws and regulations is also standard practice for international businesses," the editorial said. "Despite the colonial era when a foreign company such as the British East India Company could assume an overriding power over a sovereign state, in modern times an individual foreign company never gains the upper hand when it's in trouble with a country's laws."

Should Google leave China?

Google threatened on January 13 to quit obeying China's censorship laws and possibly leave operations in China altogether after a December hacker attack that emanated from China. China has the world's largest Internet users, with nearly 400 million people online -- more than the population of the United States.

The fracas has reverberated from Washington to Beijing, and was prominently mentioned in a policy statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Internet freedom.

Video: Life without Google in China
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Then, as now, the China state media reacted by suggesting Google is acting as a foreign policy arm of the U.S. government.

The China Daily Sunday editorial said: "Google's relations with the U.S. government cannot be deeper. US media has said Google was the fourth-largest supporter of Barack Obama in his election campaign. Four of the company's former executives including Sumit Agarwal, who was the product manager for Google Mobile team and is currently deputy assistant secretary of defense, are now serving the US government."

"In just a matter of a few months, Google has staged a "schizophrenic" farce of "I want to leave China" - "No, I didn't mean it" - "Yes, I do" for web users all around the world," wrote Tang Yuewei in a Friday editorial published in China Daily.

After Google's January 13 announcement, the company did appear to soften its stance, with executives publicly saying they hoped to continue operations in the country. In recent weeks, however, published reports suggest a breakdown in negotiations with Beijing and an increased likelihood the world's largest Internet company would leave the world's largest Internet market.

A report in Friday's China Business News quoted anonymous sources saying the company would likely make an announcement today that it will leave China by April 11. As of Monday morning in China, no announcement has been made.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the editorials or reports of its imminent pull-out.