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Google escalates standoff with China by postponing the launch of two new Android phones

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Google, China, censorship, Internet, AndroidEven as Google considers its options in China, the company Wednesday postponed the launch in that country of two mobile phones running its Android operating system. Google has asked for cooperation from Motorola and Samsung Electronics (the companies that make the new phones) to postpone their release until the fate of its standoff with the Chinese government is resolved, The New York Times reported.


The launch postponement in China for the newest mobile phones running Google's popular operating system is just the latest development in a conflict that came to a head last week when the search engine company announced it had discovered cyber attacks to its Web site originating in China. After the attacks, Google said it was no longer willing to censor results produced by the Chinese version of its search engine, a practice that the company had undertaken as a condition of operating in China.


Google has said it is prepared to shut down its local Chinese-language search engine, Google.cn, unless it is allowed to run it uncensored. The Chinese government sees Google's ultimatum as a political move, pointing to the support the company has since received from the U.S. government, Congress and "western media agencies," reports People's Daily Online, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China.


People's Daily points out that the Chinese government is not likely to compromise its principles for Google's sake. "It is a lie to claim that the Internet is an absolutely free space without regulations," according to the newspaper. "The truth is that it is the extension of the real world. Therefore, implementing monitoring according to a country's national context is what any government has to do." Ultimately, the article concludes, "China must have its own plan on how to regulate and deregulate the Internet and should not and will not follow orders from Google's CEO and the U.S. Department of State."


State Department officials have held ongoing meetings with the Chinese over the past few days, Reuters reported. During those meetings, China denied Google's allegations that it and other companies were targets of sophisticated cyber-spying conducted by the Chinese government, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told Reuters.


Google's Droid mobile phones debuted in September 2008 and have been positioned as a strong competitor to Apple's iPhone. Motorola, Samsung and Taiwan-based HTC Corporation already have Android phones available on the market.


Image ©iStockphoto.com/ xxz114

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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