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China plays down Google dispute but US concerned.

Byline: Reuters

BEIJING/WASHINGTON: China sought on Friday to play down a threat by Google Inc to quit the country on hacking and censorship concerns, but the United States said it will formally express concern over the cyber attacks the

Internet search giant said originated in China.

A spokesman for China s Commerce Ministry said there were many ways to resolve the Google issue, but repeated that all foreign companies, Google included, must abide by Chinese laws.

"Any decision made by Google will not affect Sino-U.S. trade and economic relations, as the two sides have many ways to communicate and negotiate with each other," spokesman Yao Jian told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

"We are confident about developing healthy trade and economic ties with the United States."

Yet the U.S. State Department said on Friday it will ask China to explain the attacks.

"We will be issuing a formal demarche to the Chinese government in Beijing on this issue in the coming days, probably early next week," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.

"It will express our concern for this incident and request information from China as to an explanation of how it happened and what they plan to do about it," the spokesman added. A demarche is typically delivered in person by a diplomat oversees to a foreign government to formally protest a policy

or action.

The issue risks becoming another irritant in China s relationship with the United States, already strained by arguments over the Chinese currency s exchange rate, trade protectionism and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

The United States has backed Google s decision to no longer support China s censoring of Internet searches, and has raised the issue at a diplomatic level.

One senior Obama administration official said it was too soon to tell how economic ties would be affected, but added free information flow was crucial to China s maturing economy.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Jan 17, 2010
Words:340
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