Chinese shrug shoulders at possible Google pull-out
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Last Updated: Monday, March 22, 2010, 17:24
  
Beijing: With speculation swirling that Google Inc will soon announce the closure of its China-based Internet portal, the reaction from some Chinese has been hurry up and leave, or simply: so what?

On Friday, the China Business News reported Google may make an announcement as early as Monday on whether it will pull out of China.

Google has not formally unveiled any such plans.

Two months since Google said it would no longer agree to abide by Beijing's censorship rules even if that meant shutting down its Google.cn site, some Chinese Internet users and state newspapers are baying for the company to pull out.

The burst of angry Chinese comments suggested that, in spite of the widespread popularity of Google amongst educated Chinese, the government is steering state-run media and websites to lump the company together with other recent disputes with Washington that have stirred nationalist rancour in China.

"Get the hell out," wrote one user on the website of the nationalist tabloid the Global Times (www.huanqiu.com), in remarks echoed by other readers.

"Ha ha, I'm going to buy firecrackers to celebrate!" wrote another, in anticipation of the company confirming its departure from the online search market.

Joseph Cheng, a City University of Hong Kong politics professor, said China's ruling Communist Party was deploying nationalism to stifle debate about censorship.

"The criticism of cultural exports, or cultural imperialism, is a kind of defence to justify the Chinese authorities' censorship controls," said Cheng.

"In dealing with the American government, the Chinese authorities will try to emphasize that this is only a commercial dispute and has nothing to do with Sino-American relations," he added.

Good riddance?

The Global Times in an editorial cited online surveys as showing 80 percent of respondents said they could not care less if Google withdrew from China, the world's largest Internet market with an estimated 384 million users.

The saga was a reminder of the country's need to develop its own technology and not rely on foreigners, the editorial said.

"This is a high-tech competition, and also a competition to uphold the state's sovereignty," the editorial said.

Some bloggers went a step further and accused Google of being in cahoots with US intelligence.

"It is understood that Google is very tight with the CIA," wrote "Xiaogui" on the popular portal sina.com.cn. "Take this opportunity to leave now, you spies."

Though Google has remained mum on the progress of talks, the firm's chief executive said earlier this month that an outcome is expected "soon”.

The Google case has spread beyond censorship and hacking and has become a diplomatic knot in Sino-US relations, already being challenged by spats over Taiwan, Tibet and the value of the Chinese currency.

The United States is studying whether it can legally challenge Chinese Internet restrictions, a top US trade official said recently.

Over the weekend, a commentary by the official Xinhua news agency accused Google of pushing a political agenda by "groundlessly accusing the Chinese government" of supporting hacker attacks and by trying to export its own culture, values and ideas.

Bureau Report


First Published: Monday, March 22, 2010, 17:24


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