Chinese net users mourn at Google HQ

BEIJING: Scrawled messages, flowers and offerings of fruit outside Google’s Beijing headquarters mourned the passing of a loved one today as Internet users expressed defiance against China’s web censorship.

“I don’t know what I’ll do without Google. I’ve come here to pay my respects to Google,” said one of several paper messages placed on top of the company sign.

“Goodbye Google. You can build the wall, but you can’t separate the hearts of the people. We want to see the other side of the wall,” said another, apparently referring to the authorities’ “Great Firewall of China”.

“Freedom?” wrote one supporter, in English and Chinese, on a message nestled near a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of Chinese baijiu liquor, and some apples and oranges — a typical offering when a loved one has died.

Google vowed on Tuesday to stop bowing to Chinese Internet censors and risk banishment from the lucrative market. China today insisted the Internet was open, and said foreign web firms were welcome to do business “according to law”.

A 27-year-old employee at an Internet company, who only gave his surname Zhang, said the Chinese authorities had gone too far in their policing of the web.

“In the last few years, it has become harder and harder to go around the Great Firewall. You have to spend more time and money,” he said. “If Google leaves China, I think that China can block all Google sites inside China.”

Daily’s warning

BEIJING: China will lose out if Google makes good on a threat to quit the country over cyberattacks and censorship, a state newspaper warned on Thursday, saying people had the right to a free flow of information. “it will imply a setback to China and serious loss to China’s Net culture,” said the Global Times.

US backing

WASHINGTON: With Google threatening to pull out of China over censorship, the White House said on Wednesday that it backs the “right to a free Internet” and confirmed it has held talks with the Internet giant. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “We have had conversations with them.