Chinese minister publicly slaps down Google

A senior minister in the Chinese government has told Google it has to obey its laws and not dick about removing censorship from its site.

Li Yizhong, the minister of Industry and Information Technology, told a reporter at a press conference today that Google has to respect Chinese rules.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Li said that if Google violates Chinese internet laws, it is “unfriendly and irresponsible” and will have to take the consequences of its actions.

Google said in January that it was to stop censoring its Chinese website, leading to cries of indignation from the totalitarian state. China censors a number of foreign sites and is particularly interested in suppressing information about Taoist sect the Falun Gong and any references to a free Tibet or to the Dalai Lama.

References to an independent Taiwan don’t make it very happy either – it believes the island belongs to it.

Earlier this week, Eric Schmidt said Google continued to have talks with the Chinese government, although it’s unclear what’s being ironed out behind the scenes. The Wall Street Journal is here.