, BEIJING, Jan 14 – Scrawled messages, flowers and offerings of fruit outside Google\’s Beijing headquarters mourned the passing of a loved one Thursday as Internet users expressed defiance against China\’s web censorship.
"I don\’t know what I\’ll do without Google. I\’ve come here to pay my respects to Google," said one of several paper messages left Thursday under rocks outside the sleek, modern building in a high-tech park.
"Goodbye Google. You can build the wall, but you can\’t separate the hearts of the people. We want to see the other side of the wall," said another, apparently referring to the authorities\’ "Great Firewall of China".
"Freedom?" wrote one supporter, in English and Chinese, on a message nestled near a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of Chinese baijiu liquor, and some apples and oranges — a typical offering when a loved one has died.
Google vowed Tuesday to stop bowing to Chinese Internet censors and risk banishment from the lucrative market, in protest against "highly sophisticated" cyberattacks aimed at Chinese human rights activists.
The authorities in the world\’s most populous nation regularly block content and websites they deem politically objectionable.
China on Thursday insisted the Internet was open, and said foreign web firms were welcome to do business in the world\’s third-largest economy — "according to law".
A 27-year-old employee at an Internet company, who only gave his surname Zhang, said outside the Google headquarters that the Chinese authorities had gone too far in their policing of the web.
"In the last few years, it has become harder and harder to go around the Great Firewall. You have to spend more time and money," he told AFP.
"If Google leaves China, I think that China has the capability to block all Google sites inside China… they will make a lot of people unhappy."
Zhang said the government often cited the dangers of pornography as its main reason for policing the Internet, but said he believed they were really concerned about political content.
"They talk about pornography, but with 1.3 billion people, who has not seen pornography?" he said.
Not everyone at the Google site was supportive.
A man surnamed Cui, a worker at a software company in the area, said while he used Google\’s search engine every day, he did not think the company should be able to flout China\’s laws.
"Every nation restricts the Internet. China has its laws. If you want to leave China, it\’s your own business but you have to respect the laws here," he said.