, BEIJING, Mar 24 – China\’s state media on Wednesday slammed Google after it effectively shut down its Chinese search engine, saying the US Internet giant was "not god" and accusing it of working with US intelligence.
The newspapers said the company had made a huge mistake in the world\’s largest online market and would earn little sympathy from Chinese users, as it had politicised its dispute with Beijing over web censorship and cyberattacks.
Google on Monday stopped filtering search results in China and re-routed traffic from google.cn to an uncensored site in Hong Kong, but said it would maintain its sales and research and development teams on the mainland.
"For Chinese people, Google is not god, and even if it puts on a show of politics and values, it is still not god," said the overseas edition of the People\’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party\’s mouthpiece.
"In fact, Google is not chaste when it comes to values. Its cooperation and collusion with the US intelligence and security agencies is well-known," it said in a front-page commentary.
The paper said Google\’s decision "makes one wonder about all the big efforts that the United States has made in recent years to engage in an Internet war – perhaps this is an exploratory attack in a pre-dawn battle."
The English-language Global Times, a subsidiary of the People\’s Daily, also hit out at Google, saying it had made a "huge strategic misstep in the promising Chinese market".
The paper touted the improvement in China\’s business climate and warned foreign firms that they could face "unprecedented" competition from homegrown companies, urging them to adapt to the "transitional Chinese society".
"A win-win situation is in the interests of both China and foreign businesses. Google\’s \’new approach\’ does not work," it said.
Beijing has repeatedly said foreign businesses are welcome as long as they abide by Chinese law. Google says its shift of search traffic to google.com.hk is "entirely legal", as Hong Kong is not subject to mainland censorship laws.
The harsh newspaper commentaries came after officials in China and the United States had appeared keen to tamp down the fallout from the row, as they try to put relations back on track after months of tension.
China had angrily denounced Google\’s decision as "totally wrong" but the foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang later described it as a commercial case and should not influence Sino-US relations unless people tried to "politicise it."
The China Daily relished the "moment of peace" created by Google\’s decision, which came two months after it first said it had been the victim of cyberattacks originating in China and was no longer willing to bow to censors.
"Google\’s efforts to make this issue into a political spat have naturally met with strong opposition and criticism from the Chinese government and society," the newspaper said.
"With the company\’s credibility among Chinese netizens now plummeting, Google will be greeted with less sympathy and fewer parting sentiments from Chinese Internet users," it said.
The paper slammed Google for offering China\’s 384 million web users access to "pornography and subversive content", saying the Chinese web would "continue to grow in a cleaner and more peaceful environment" without google.cn.
Despite Google\’s promise of uncensored results, searches of politically sensitive key words continue to generate the browser message "cannot display the webpage" – suggesting China\’s "Great Firewall" of Internet control remained intact.