China state media blasts Google for 'huge' mistake

BEIJING, March 24, 2010 (AFP) - China's state media on Wednesday belittled Google's decision to effectively shut down its Chinese search engine, saying the Internet firm had made a huge mistake in the world's largest online market.

The Google logo is pictured outside the company's China head office in Beijing on March 23, 2010. AFP photo

The newspapers said the company would earn little sympathy from loyal users in China, as it had turned its dispute with Beijing over government web censorship and cyberattacks into a political issue.

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.

"With its action to shift its search service from the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong yesterday, the world's top search engine has made a huge strategic misstep in the promising Chinese market," the Global Times said.

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 in a commentary.

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 China Daily relished the "moment of peace" created by Google's decision, two months after the eruption of the dispute, which has added to strains in relations between China and the United States.

"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 English-language newspaper wrote in a commentary.

"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.

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