China said today that its relations with Washington will not be effected by a decision of the U.S.-based Internet firm Google to stop self-censoring search results for users in China -- that is, unless the Google issue is "politicized."
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remark while announcing high-level strategic and economic talks in late May with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
U.S.-China talks broke down earlier this year over the issues of Internet freedom, the value of China's yuan currency, a visit by the Dalai Lama to the White House, and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
Qin says the dispute with Google is "mainly an individual commercial case." He said China administers the Internet according to its own laws. Google said on March 22 it started redirecting users of its mainland Chinese site to an unfiltered portal in Hong Kong -- ending Google's self-censorship of Chinese-language web searches.
In Washington, the White House says it is disappointed that China and Google could not reach an agreement, but U.S. President Barack Obama's administration remains committed to Internet freedom and opposed to censorship.
In January, Google said it had been hit by a "sophisticated cyberattack" originating in China that targeted e-mail accounts of human rigths activists in China.