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Morning briefing: China says Google will obey censorship laws, Britain's deficit shrinks slightly

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
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*China said Tuesday that Google's license to operate in the country had been renewed after the company pledged to obey censorship laws.

The remarks were Beijing's first comments about Google since the search giant shocked the Internet world in January with the announcement that it would end four years of self-censorship and pull out of the country entirely after alleged intrusions into its network by hackers.

In March, Google raised the stakes in its censorship row with China by shutting down its search service in the mainland and redirecting searches to Hong Kong, which is semi-autonomous and enjoys greater freedom of speech.

Zhang Feng, an official with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a news conference on Tuesday that Google had promised to "obey Chinese law" and avoid linking to material deemed a threat to national security or social stability.

Zhang also talked about Google's planned "rectification and reform," referring to the U.S. search company's decision to stop switching users automatically to its Hong Kong search site. Instead, users arrive at a screen that allows them to click to get to Google Hong Kong. "The rectification and reform in the annual application basically conforms to regulation," Zhang said.

A Google spokeswoman would not comment directly about Zhang's remarks but reiterated that "the products we are keeping on Google.cn (Music, Translate, Product Search) do not require Google to censor." She said Web search is being offered from Google.com.hk without censorship.

"There is no censorship being done by Google on either domain," she said.

*Taiwan's export orders rose a bit faster than expected in June despite slower growth in China and the debt crisis in Europe. Orders increased 22 percent from a year earlier, following a 34 percent gain in May, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected a 21.7 percent gain.

*Toyota Motor Corp. said it has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in New York regarding problems with steering relay rods. The company said in a statement that it had been asked to provide documents but that the models of vehicles involved had not been specified in the subpoena, which it received on June 29.

*Britain's deficit grew larger in June than economists had forecast, but shrank slightly compared to a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics said. The deficit was estimated at 14.5 billion pounds ($22 billion), down from from 14.7 billion pounds in 2009. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast that the deficit would be around 13 billion pounds. In the last fiscal year, the shortfall hit a post-World War II high of 11 percent of economic output.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  |  July 20, 2010; 6:18 AM ET
Categories:  China  
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