State-controlled Chinese media accused Google of political motives in its threat to exit China, suggesting a hostile government stance as speculation grows that Google could act on a plan defying the country's regulations.
Other editorials published in recent days, which appear to mark a coordinated attack on Google in Chinese state media, played down the effects any exit by the company would have in China.
"It is unfair for Google to impose its own value and yardsticks on Internet regulation to China, which has its own time-honored tradition, culture and value," a commentary by writers at the official Xinhua news agency said. "One company's ambition to change China's Internet rules and legal system will only prove to be ridiculous."
Google said in January that it planned to stop censoring results on its China-based search engine, Google.cn, but that the move might mean having to shut down that website or Google's China offices altogether. Google cited reasons including hacking attempts allegedly launched from China and concerns about restrictions on free speech. The Wall Street Journal cited an unnamed person familiar with the matter as saying Google could announce its latest plans for China this week.
Another state-media editorial, run in the China Daily, said Google leaves itself less room for negotiations the more it "politicizes the issue." Chinese officials have repeatedly warned that Google and other foreign companies must follow China's laws to operate in the country.
"Chinese netizens did not expect the Google issue to snowball into a political minefield and become a tool in the hands of vested interests abroad to attack China under the pretext of Internet freedom," China Daily said in another editorial.
A constant message in the editorials was that a Google exit would have no effect on the growth of the Internet in China. Chinese Internet users will simply move on to other search engines if Google is unavailable, and Google "will be the biggest loser in all of this," China Daily said.
Google did not immediately reply to a request for comment.