John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Beijing on Google’s China Move: Hong Kong Phooey

Following its initial red-in-the-face tirade, the Chinese government has adopted a more measured tone in its comments about Google’s closure of and the redirection of users to another site in Hong Kong. At a press briefing this morning, foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang dismissed concerns that Google’s move might negatively affect China’s relationship with the United States. “I can’t see it having an impact on China-U.S. relations unless someone wants to politicize this,” Gang told reporters today in Beijing. “It’s not China that has undermined its image, rather it is Google itself.”

Clearly, Google’s (GOOG) redirection of to and the implied reminder that Hong Kong is free and mainland China is not, did not go over well with Beijing.

Gang did not comment on the legality of Google’s new approach to China or explain how his country’s government will respond. But he did reiterate Beijing’s you-will-play-by-our-rules mandate to foreign business. Said Gang: “Any foreign company operating in China must abide by Chinese laws and regulations.”

Was he implying that China feels Google is violating its laws by offering an uncensored search service from Hong Kong? That’s not yet clear, though I’m sure it will become more so in the days ahead. Already, there are reports that Google searches for sensitive or banned terms conducted from China are returning error messages.