Promising consequences if Google flouts China's censorship laws, Chinese authorities also chide the U.S. for its human rights record
By Thomas Claburn, InformationWeek USA

A top official of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) recently warned Google that it will face consequences if it fails to obey Chinese laws.

According to an Associate Press report, Li Yizhong, head of the MIIT, said, "If you want to do something that disobeys Chinese law and regulations, you are unfriendly, you are irresponsible and you will have to pay the consequences."

Google declined to comment on these remarks.

In January, Google said it would stop censoring Internet search results on its Chinese search site,, in response to cyber-attacks from China on its systems. The attacks targeted the Gmail accounts of human rights activists and resulted in the theft of the company's intellectual property.

Though Google has been careful not to name suspects in the case, unaffiliated security researchers believe that the hackers operated with the knowledge, if not the approval, of Chinese authorities.

China has denied any official involvement in the attacks and insists that it is the biggest victim of cyber-attacks.

In a report published in China Daily, Li said that Google is welcome to stay in China and that its presence is beneficial to the development of the Internet in China.

At a recent press conference in Abu Dhabi, Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said that Google's status in China would be clarified soon, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google has been negotiating with Chinese authorities in the hope that it can find a way to continue to do business in China without censoring search results. Many outside observers believe such a compromise is unlikely.
On a related note, China's Information Office of the State Council on Friday criticized the U.S. for its human right record and for meddling in the affairs of other countries.

The Chinese report on U.S. human rights issues comes in response to a U.S. State Department human rights report issued on Thursday, a tradition of counter-attack that has been going on for the past eleven years.

The State Department's 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights covers human rights issues in countries all over the world, including China. "The [Chinese] government's human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas," the report states.

A report published in December by Human Rights in China, an NGO, warns that China's growing soft power is being used to counter efforts to improve human rights around the globe.

"[China's] global propaganda is increasingly effective," the report states. "Its grip on the Western business community is strong. Its influence in world media is rising. China's soft power is extensive, and one of its targets is the vitality of human rights as a part of international law and institutions."