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March 17, 2010

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Google told to obey rules

GOOGLE should obey Chinese government rules even if it decides to retreat from the country over hacking and censorship complaints, a Chinese government spokesman said yesterday.

Investors sold off Google Inc shares a day earlier after signs the company could soon shut its Web search site in China,

Shares of Google fell nearly 3 percent in regular trading on Monday. Shares of Baidu, the No. 1 search engine in China, rose 4.8 percent.

Google has not unveiled any plans, leaving users to guess whether the company may seek to unilaterally do away with the filters that censor content on or announce it is shutting down the site.

In what appeared to be a reminder that China would not welcome any abrupt steps, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce said Google should follow rules even if it decides not to stay in the country.

"On entering the Chinese market in 2007, it clearly stated that it would respect Chinese law," the spokesman, Yao Jian, said at a news conference.

Google opened its Chinese search portal in 2006.

"We hope whether Google Inc continues operating in China or makes other choices, it will respect Chinese legal rules," Yao said. "Even if it pulls out, it should handle things according to the rules and appropriately handle remaining issues."

Yao said those rules included one that a foreign company report to the ministry about plans to pull out.



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