China Warns Google Will Have to Abide by Chinese Web Restrictions

China's Communist leadership says Google and other Internet companies will have to abide by its laws, including Web restrictions, if they want to do business in the country.

The statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday came after a Google co-founder expressed doubts about his company's decision to offer a self-censored version of its search engine so it could operate in China.

The Chinese version of Google offered in this country gives access only to sites that do not contain what the government considers politically sensitive material.

Company officials have said they would monitor conditions in China before deciding whether to keep doing business in the country. On Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao offered no hope that Beijing might soften its policy of Internet censorship.

"Any cooperation on economy and trade should be conducted with the framework of the law," Liu says. "We also hope relevant companies operating and developing business in China can abide by Chinese law."

Google co-founder Sergey Brin this week said that in launching a Chinese version of its search engine recently, the company could perhaps compromise its principles but ultimately be more effective in providing more information to Chinese users. However, Brin said perhaps now the principled approach of not submitting to censorship - "makes more sense."

Google users this week reported the general, uncensored version of the search engine was blocked in many parts of China. Analysts speculated the blocking might be due to the sensitive June 4 anniversary of the Chinese army's bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. The government traditionally takes extra steps to prevent politically sensitive activities around the anniversary.

China routinely blocks thousands of Internet sites, including VOA's Web site, in an effort to control public access to information that is critical of the government. The Chinese government employs thousands of people to monitor the Internet, including e-mail, looking for material considered subversive.