BEIJING (AFP) -Google defended its much criticized censorship policy for China, insisting it must follow local laws, as it launched its new brand for the lucrative Internet market.
“We simply don’t have a choice but to follow the law,” chief executive officer Eric Schmidt told reporters at a launch ceremony in Beijing for the US Internet giant’s new Chinese name, which translates to “Gu Ge.”
“We must comply with the local law, indeed we have all made a commitment to the government that we will absolutely follow the Chinese law. We don’t have any alternatives.
“It is not an option for us to broadly make information available that is illegal, inappropriate or immoral or what have you.”
Google caused an uproar in January when it launched its new service for China, google.cn, after agreeing to censor websites and content banned by the nation’s propaganda chiefs.
The Silicon Valley company, whose rise as a global Internet giant was accompanied by the motto: ‘Do no evil’, joined the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft in bowing to China’s censorship demands.
While Google and the other companies have come under pressure in the United States not to succumb to Chinese pressure, Schmidt praised China’s rulers for their Internet strategy that has seen a huge online population develop.
“We look at the rise of China, the investment and the smart people and we are in awe of what has occurred here,” Schmidt said.
“And we salute the government, key leaders in the industry and all of you who have made the rise of the Internet in China such a tremendous accomplishment.”
In the case of Yahoo, it came under fire last year for supplying information to the Chinese government that led to the arrest of Chinese journalist Shi Tao.
Shi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for passing on a government censorship order through his Yahoo e-mail account.
Schmidt refused to answer a reporter’s question on whether Google would also supply personal information on its Internet users to Chinese authorities if requested.
“I’d rather not answer a hypothetical question,” he said.