MInsider: US, Google and China square off over Internet

MInsider: US, Google and China square off over Internet

SAN FRANCISCO/BEIJING, Jan 13 – Google’s threat to quit China over censorship and hacking intensified Sino-US frictions on Wednesday as Washington said Internet control was a serious issue and demanded an explanation from Beijing.

Beijing has not made any significant comment since Google, the world’s top search engine, said it will not abide by censorship and may shut its Chinese-language google.cn website because of attacks from China on dissidents using its Gmail service and on companies.

Chinese authorities were “seeking more information on Google’s statement that it could quit China”, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing an unnamed official from China’s State Council Information Office, or cabinet spokesman’s office.

Differences over the Internet now seem sure to intensify tensions between the United States and China, joining friction over climate change, trade, human rights and military ambition.

“This is a clash of behemoths. This is a big country and this is a big company,” said former US Department of Justice computer crimes chief Mark Rasch.

With China the largest lender to the United States, holding $800 billion in Treasury bills, these Internet tensions will make steering this vast, fast-evolving relationship all the more tricky, especially with the US Congress in an election year.

China has said it does not sponsor hacking. Its officials have also accused the West of seeking to undermine China’s one-Party rule by backing dissidents and campaigns against censorship. Now Google is at the heart of those tensions.

Pressing China for an explanation, US Secretary of State Clinton said: “The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy.

“We have been briefed by Google on these allegations, which raise very serious concerns and questions,” Clinton said in a statement in Honolulu. “We look to the Chinese government for an explanation.”

Economic analysts said the issue had snowballed beyond Google and its problems.

Read all in the MInsider

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