China persuades Google to stay back
BEIJING: China on Saturday announced a sharp increase in the number of Internet users. The timing of the announcement suggests Beijing is trying to persuade Google to stay and give up plans to pull out its Chinese version from the country.
There is no sense blowing things out of proportion and turning a business issue into a political or diplomatic dispute," Xinhua, the Chinese official news agency, said in a commentary on Saturday.
Xinhua pointed out that Baidu, the largest Chinese web portal, suffered a cyber attack on Tuesday that resulted in the site being shut down for three years. Baidu, with 58 per cent market share of Internet users, will be the biggest beneficiary if Google, China pulls out.
The Chinese news agency was apparently trying to suggest that attacks by hackers is not limited to Google & affects its rivals as well. Google had earlier cited attacks on its web site in China as one of the reasons why it was considering pulling out its Chinese version. Google, China has 31 per cent share of the market.
The country’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that China welcomes international Internet companies to conduct business within the country according to law.
Google has said it was considering pulling out its Chinese version because of hacker attacks in China and because the Chinese government was using its site to carry out investigation against human rights activists.
China Internet Network Information Center, an official agency, said on Saturday that the number of Internet users in the country has reached 384 million by the end of 2009 due to the expansion of Internet access in more areas and a rapid increase of mobile phone Internet users.
This accounts to a 28 per cent jump in one year.
China issued third-generation (3G) licenses to major telecom operators in January last year resulting in higher use of Internet. About eight per cent of all Internet users access the Internet only through mobile phones.
Apart from hacker attacks, Google is engaged in two other disputes in China. It has been charged by an association of Chinese writers of copyright theft as it displayed books in the local language without obtaining their permission. Google is in negotiations with the association but has refused to accept its demand to apologise.
Google has also been criticised by the Chinese censors for allowing its site to be used for distribution of pornography.