The US administration on Friday came out in strong support of Google in its spat with China over Internet freedom and sought an explanation from Beijing on the issue.
White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs, said US President Barack Obama strongly supports Google which had threatened to shut down operations in China over the issue of censures that “limit free speech on the Web”.
“I think our concern is with actions that threaten the universal rights of a free Internet,” Gibbs said.
“He strongly supports that, and we support Google’s action in a decision to no longer censure searches that happen using the Google platform,” he told newsmen. He was, however, quick to add that the showdown is unlikely to have any impact on the bilateral relationship.
Citing assaults from hackers on its computer systems and China’s attempts to “limit free speech on the Web,” Google on Tuesday said it would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in China.
“Whether or not it affects our relationship — look, we have, the President has, strong beliefs about the universal rights of men and women throughout the globe. Those don’t — those aren’t carved out for certain countries,” Gibbs said.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in East and Asia Pacific wing of the State Department, David Shear, met the Deputy Chinese Ambassador on Friday to raise the issue with him.
‘No effect on China, US ties’
China sought to play down a threat by Google to quit the country on hacking and censorship concerns, saying any decision by the Internet giant would not affect U.S. trade ties.
The United States said it was too soon to tell how economic ties would be affected, but added free information flow was crucial to China’s maturing economy.
A spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry said there were many ways to resolve the Google issue, but repeated that all foreign companies, Google included, must abide by Chinese laws.
“Any decision made by Google will not affect Sino-U.S. trade and economic relations, as the two sides have many ways to communicate and negotiate with each other,” spokesman Yao Jian told a regular news briefing in Beijing.
Meanwhile, an American Internet security firm says it has traced the sophisticated cyber-attack against Google and 30 other U.S. companies back to the Chinese government “or its proxies”.