Beijing: Chinese state media stepped up their war of words with the United States over Internet control on Tuesday, with a top newspaper claiming a US conspiracy and saying China can live without Google.
Two weeks ago the world`s biggest search engine provider, Google Inc, threatened to shut its Chinese Google.cn portal and to pull back from China, citing problems of censorship and sophisticated hacking from within the country.
The Obama administration has backed Google`s criticisms, and on Thursday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China to drop Internet censorship and investigate the claims of hacking, which some experts have said could have been organised by Beijing.
After first fending off the criticisms from Google and Washington with tight-lipped restraint, Chinese officials and state-run media have launched a torrent of scorn that has the hallmarks of a concerted counter-campaign.
The country`s top newspaper warned that the Internet row was hurting broader bilateral relations -- which have also been strained by trade disputes, US arms sales to Taiwan, and the possibility that President Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama, who Beijing calls a separatist.
"These statements and actions disregard reality and harm China`s national image, upsetting the healthy and stable development of Sino-US ties," the People`s Daily, the ruling Communist Party`s chief mouthpiece, said in a commentary on the Internet dispute.
"It is not difficult to see the shadow of the US government behind the politicisation of the Google affair."
Washington had exploited Google`s claims "in an effort to restrict China`s right to protect its national security and interests on the Internet."
Google has said it wants talks with the Chinese government about solving its complaints.
But the People`s Daily added a note of uncertainty about Google`s hopes. "Perhaps Google has already realised that China can do without Google, but without China, Google does not have a future," it said.