Google, internet portals targeted by Chinese crackdown apologize

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 08 2009 11:08 AM | Updated as of Jan 08 2009 07:08 PM

SHANGHAI - Google and other major Internet sites apologized on Wednesday after the Chinese government accused them of failing to police links on their web pages that could lead to pornographic material.

Google said it had deleted all links to vulgar material from its search indexes, "which may have had a negative effect on web users", in an apology posted in the company blog on its Chinese site.

"Search engines link to a sea of materials and our plan is to conquer mountains of technical difficulties and do all we can to reduce the amount of vulgar material," Google said in the statement.

"Google is willing to be a law-abiding citizen in China," it said.

Google was among 19 Internet companies singled out by the government on Monday, including China's most popular search engine Baidu.

The sites were accused of spreading pornography and other material that could corrupt the young.

China's Ministry of Public Security and six other government agencies announced a crackdown on companies that ignore government warnings and threatened to close down sites that did not comply.

Baidu and other targeted sites posted similarly worded apologies.

"We feel deep regret about (the government accusation) and we took immediate action to delete the relevant vulgar contents and links," Baidu wrote.

China has the world's largest online population at more that 250 million, according to official figures, and it is growing rapidly as computer use rises along with income levels.