Earlier this week, search engine giant Google threatened to withdraw from China, citing incidents of censorship and cyber attacks. Google has requested the Chinese relax their censorship policies and claims the Chinese government is either complicit in hacking attempts or not doing enough to combat incidents of cyber crime. The cyber attacks including the hacking of email accounts for human rights activists and U.S. think tanks who are critical of human rights in China.
Google is looking to operate its Chinese-based search engine, Google.cn, which is used by approximately 80 million Chinese, without censoring content. Google is set to hold talks with Chinese government officials in the coming weeks to attempt to come to an agreement that stays within Chinese law but does not require Google to censor content on its search engine.
Jiang Yu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, “China’s Internet is open, and the Chinese government encourages development of the Internet.”
In response to questions regarding Google’s claims of cyber attacks, Ms. Yu said, “Chinese law proscribes any form of hacking activity.”
Google first launched the Chinese version of its search engine in 2006 and agreed at the time to censor certain search results. Those searches include the Tiananmen Square protests, Tibetan independence and Falun Gong.
The Chinese Internet market is the largest in the world. China currently has approximately 350 million Internet users, a number of whom access the Internet via smartphones.
Reports in The Washington Post claim recent cyber attacks that originated in China against Google are part of a broader effort to conduct corporate and political espionage. The report claims 34 companies were hit in recent cyber attacks emanating from China.