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Google testifies before US House on 'global censorship'

Internet giant Google Wednesday testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on so-called global censorship.

"Internet censorship is a growing global problem that not only raises important human rights concerns, but also creates significant barriers for U.S. companies doing business abroad," said Nicole Wong, Google's vice president and deputy general counsel in the testimony.

"Over the last several years, we have seen an increasing number of governments, even democratic ones, choose to blacklist certain sites that they deem harmful without providing any formal oversight of process or meaningful ability to appeal," she said.

She called on both U.S. and Chinese authorities to investigate the so-called major cyber attacks on Google and warned again the company might shut its Chinese Google.cn portal and pull out of China.

"If we determine that we are unable to achieve our objectives (in China), we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China," said the Google executive.

In January, Google's Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, said the disputes with the Chinese government on Internet regulation and major cyber attacks on his company have forced Google to consider leaving China.

But China quickly denied government links to cyber attacks, saying such accusations were "irresponsible and calculating."

"China resolutely opposes the groundless accusations from Google," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in February.

He noted Chinese laws prohibit cyber attacks, and that the Chinese government does not tolerate cyber crime. Moreover, he said, China welcomes international Internet companies to conduct business in China as long as they abide by Chinese laws, Qin said at a regular news briefing.

Earlier this week, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also said Google had never filed reports over alleged Internet regulation and cyber attacks to the ministry nor requested negotiations.

Miao Wei, vice minister of Industry and Information Technology, said the Chinese government bans hacking. "We never support hacking attacks because China also falls victim to hacking attacks," Miao said.

"If Google has had evidence that the attacks came from China, the Chinese government will welcome them to provide the information, and will severely punish the offenders according to the law," he said.

"If Google decides to continue its business in China and abides by China's laws, it's welcome to stay," Miao said. "If the company chooses to withdraw from the Chinese market, it must go through certain procedures according to the law and regulations and deal with customers' problems that may arise."

"Foreign Internet enterprises, like foreign businesses of any other kind operating in China, shall abide by Chinese laws and respect its culture," foreign ministry spokesman Qin said.