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China says Google, foreign firms must respect laws

Foreign firms, including Google, must respect Chinese laws and customs, China's foreign ministry spokesman said, a week after the world's largest search engine said it might pull out of China due to hacking and censorship.

Ma Zhaoxu said he did not know whether Chinese officials had held talks with Google executives. Google said it would seek meetings on how to offer a legal, unfiltered search service after losing intellectual property to sophisticated cyber-attacks that also affected more than 30 other firms.

“The Chinese government encourages the development of the Internet,” Ma told reporters at a regular briefing.

“Foreign firms in China should respect China's laws and regulations, and respect China's public customs and traditions, and assume the corresponding social responsibilities, and of course Google is no exception.”

When asked again about Google's complaint that it had been hacked from China, Ma said Chinese companies have also been hacked, adding that China resolutely opposes the practice.

An Indian national security adviser told the Times of London that the Indian government also had been the target of hacker attacks originating from China.

“There is no basis at all for this claim,” Ma said of the reports that China hacked Indian government computers.

Indian commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma declined to comment on the report. He said he had not brought up the issue with China's Commerce Minister when he met his counterpart in Beijing on Tuesday.

Ma's comments on the Internet mostly repeated the foreign ministry's statements on Thursday, but this was the first time the foreign ministry referred directly to Google. (Reuters)