Google pledged to comply with law, says Beijing
In the latest twist in the ongoing war between China and Google, authorities in Beijing announced on Tuesday that Google's licence to operate in China was only renewed because the Internet giant agreed to adhere to local censorship rules.
AFP - China renewed Google's licence to operate in the country after the company agreed to respect Chinese censorship laws, an official said Tuesday in the government's first public comment on the issue.
However, the official did not specify whether Google's pledge came only as it now offers mainland users of google.cn a link to its unfiltered search engine site in Hong Kong, where such laws do not apply.
"Google agreed... that it will respect China's laws and regulations," Zhang Feng, a top official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told reporters.
"That is to say, it will not provide any information that will endanger China's national security, damage China's national interests, instigate ethnic hatred, spread superstitious information, damage social stability, or (provide) pornography, violence or slanderous information."
A Tokyo-based Google spokeswoman said its current arrangement would not require the company to censor either its google.cn or google.com.hk sites.
"As we stated in our blog the other day, the products we are keeping on Google.cn (Music, Translate, Product Search) do not require Google to censor," spokeswoman Jessica Powell said in an email to AFP.
"All other products, like web search, we are offering from Google.com.hk, and without censorship. So in short, there is no censorship being done by Google on either domain."
In March, Google said it would no longer bow to government censors and effectively shut down its Chinese search engine, automatically re-routing mainland users to its uncensored site in Hong Kong.
But in late June, the company -- seeking renewal of its Internet Content Provider licence in China -- said it would stop re-routing and instead set up a new landing page at google.cn with links to the Hong Kong site.
"This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self-censor and, we believe, with local law," Google's chief legal officer David Drummond wrote on the company's official blog.
Google.com.hk is intermittently accessible from mainland China but searches for material typically viewed as sensitive by Chinese authorities often return an error message.
Beijing confirmed a week ago that it had renewed Google's ICP licence in the world's largest Internet market, after the company agreed to "rectify" its operations.
Zhang said Google had also agreed to be "subject to the supervision and monitoring of relevant (Chinese government) departments."
"So it is our conclusion that it has now met the requirements after rectification," Zhang said.
"As for the operation of its website in Hong Kong, that is totally a business decision that it is free to make."