A Chinese Communist Party newspaper accused Google on Wednesday of colluding with U.S. spies, and said the firm's retreat from China over censorship justified Beijing's efforts to promote homegrown technology.
China's latest blast at the world's biggest Internet search company came in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the chief newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party.
Google on Monday shut its mainland Chinese-language portal Google.cn and began rerouting searches to a Hong Kong site, over two months after it said it would not accept the self-censorship demanded by China's government, which is determined to keep a tight grip on domestic users' access to the Internet.
China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it regarded Google's departure as the "individual act" of one company, and said the country remained welcoming of foreign investors.
But Beijing's response to Google's complaints about censorship and hacking has also echoed nationalist-tinged claims that Google and Washington used the dispute over Internet controls to challenge Communist Party authority.
"For Chinese people, Google is not god, and even if it puts on a full-on show about politics and values, it is still not god," said a front-page commentary in the paper.
"In fact, Google is not a virgin when it comes to values. Its cooperation and collusion with the U.S. intelligence and security agencies is well-known," said the newspaper.
"All this makes one wonder. Thinking about the United States' big efforts in recent years to engage in Internet war, perhaps this could be an exploratory pre-dawn battle," the commentary said of Google's pull-out.
The overseas edition of the newspaper is a small-circulation offshoot of the main domestic edition, and often makes bolder comments than the main edition.
The commentary said Google's actions should prompt China to focus more on developing its own technology.
While the tough comments may not reflect official policy, they reflect China's anger at the United States after recent tensions over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, President Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama, and Washington's calls for Beijing to lift the value of its yuan.
Google "completely misjudged the situation, and does not grasp that Chinese people are extremely averse to external threats and pressure," said the newspaper commentary.
The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday Google's decision to shut Google.cn was a business decision by the company and did not involve the U.S. government.