In a vehement speech at the Museum of journalism in Washington, the US Secretary of State declared the "countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation", adding that “in an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's networks can be an attack on all.”
Hilary Clinton had already expressed her support for Google after the internet giant announced last week it is no longer willing to censor searches on its Chinese web browser, as required by Chinese law, and may soon be closing its offices in the country. But Clinton’s statement that companies such as Google should refuse to support “politically-motivated censorship” resonated both as an act of defiance against China and a call to all US companies abroad to support “American” values such as human rights and the freedom of expression.
Google’s threat to abandon the 350 million user-strong Chinese Web market sent shockwaves throughout the blogosphere, drawing praise from human rights groups and criticism from some Chinese circles, who accused Google of stirring up reports of Chinese censorship to burnish its image at home.
Meanwhile, hundreds of young Chinese web users left flowers in front of the company’s headquarters in Beijing, in a rare act of defiance against their government’s official position. Skeptics expressed doubt that Google would be able to withdraw from such a lucrative market. Google insiders say that the move would be in keeping with Soviet-born co-founder Sergei Brim’s fierce opposition to collaborating with authoritarian markets.
Mrs. Clinton's remarks are bound to anger the Chinese authorities, who previously sought to play down Google’s threats. At the same time they will add momentum to the Google team ahead of key negotiations on the conditions of Google’s presence in China in coming weeks. To show that it means business, Google indefinitely delayed the Chinese launch of two mobile phones run on its operating system Android on Tuesday. Whether or not it will succeed in forcing China to relax internet censorship remains to be seen.
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