China responds to Google threat
China has said that foreign Internet firms are welcome to do business 'according to the law'.
The statement, from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu, is Beijing's first response to Google's threat to stop filtering content in China.
Google said Tuesday that Chinese cyber-attacks aimed at human rights activists might force it to close its Chinese operations.
Ms Jiang said the Internet was 'open' in China.
Google announced that it was no longer willing to censor its Chinese search engine, google.cn.
The search engine subsequently said it would hold talks with the government in the coming weeks to look at operating an unfiltered search engine within the law in the country, though no changes to filtering had yet been made.
At a regular foreign ministry news briefing, Ms Jiang said, 'China like other countries administers the Internet according to law.
'China's Internet is open and the Chinese government encourages development of the Internet'.
She was responding to a reporter's question on Google and US concerns about the business environment in light of Google's reported cyber-attacks.
'Chinese law proscribes any form of hacking activity,' she said.
When Google launched google.cn in 2006, it agreed to censor some of the search results, as required by the Chinese government.
The BBC's Chris Hogg in Shanghai said Ms Jiang's comments sounded like a holding statement, until officials can have talks with Google.
Google currently holds around a third of the Chinese search market, far behind Chinese rival Baidu with more than 60 per cent. —
China has more Internet users - about 350 million - than any other country. Last year, the search engine market was worth an estimated $1 billion (£614 million) - BBC