Tensions between the United States and China over technology and Internet freedoms are reaching new heights, after Google’s surprising disclosure that it and other companies had been subjected to sophisticated cyber attacks aimed at ferreting out information on Chinese human rights activists. Google has threatened to leave the Chinese market over the attacks, and has announced it intends to cease censoring search results provided by its Chinese language search engine. But where does the current row leave other technologies tied to Google—like the Android mobile operating system? According to Chinese government spokespeople, there’s no impact on Android in China…so long as Android complies with Chinese laws.
Speaking at a news conference, Zu Hongren, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Education and Information Technology, said there “should be no limit” on Android or any other system, so long as it toes the line on Chinese laws and regulations. Hongren emphasized that the Chinese telecommunications environment is an open market.
China has maintained that its Internet censorship regime is entirely legal, and necessary to protect the Chinese people and culture from both dangerous materials and cultural imperialism from the United States and other Western nations.
Tensions may come to a head later this week, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi are scheduled to meet in London; one of the topics of conversation is to be Internet freedom.
The mobile industry is particularly on edge in regard to tensions between China and Google: Motorola is betting heavily on Android as the mobile platform that will turn around its struggling handset business, and Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE are also building Android-based handsets. Google has already delayed the launch of two Android-based phones in China due to the current dispute.