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Google seeks U.S. and European support on China censorship

Only pressure from the West will get China to ease restrictions, the Internet giant's top lawyer says.

June 09, 2010|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

reporting from san francisco —

Google Inc. may have pulled its search engine out of mainland China, but it's still pressing U.S. and European governments to take a stand on censorship as an unfair barrier to free trade.

The Internet giant's top lawyer, David Drummond, said Wednesday that pressure from Western nations is "the only way that it's going to change, that this tide of censorship or this rising censorship is going to be arrested," according to an Associated Press report.

Google has been trying to make Internet freedom a plank of American foreign policy since its public standoff with Chinese leaders over censorship issues and cyber attacks that infiltrated Google and the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. Drummond described the attacks as the "final straw."

"We felt that it was increasingly hard to do business there in accordance with our values," he said.

Google has argued that Internet freedom is as much a trade issue as a human rights issue. Drummond said he had solicited support from U.S., French and German governments and from the European Union's executive arm. Despite efforts to raise human rights issues with China, the European Union has not had much success.

"Freedom of information is a trade issue" because it puts U.S. firms trying to compete in China at a huge disadvantage, said Oded Shenkar, professor of business management at Ohio State University and the author of "The Chinese Century."

Since late March, Google has been redirecting search requests from mainland China to Hong Kong, which doesn't impose the same restrictions.

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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