Google co-founder Sergey Brin said in an interview published Wednesday that Chinese regulations which prevent the Web giant from being competitive in China should be considered a "trade barrier."
Brin, in comments published by the British newspaper The Guardian, said human rights issues should be given "equal time" with trade concerns and the US administration should make the censorship row with China a "high priority."
China has attacked Google for stopping censorship of its Chinese-language search engine but said there should be no broader fall-out in Sino-US ties provided the issue is not politicized in the United States.
Google announced Monday it would no longer filter results on China-based Google.cn and was redirecting mainland Chinese users to an uncensored site in Hong Kong -- effectively closing down the mainland site.
Brin urged pressure from government and businesses on Beijing over the row.
"I certainly hope they make it a high priority," he told the newspaper. "Human rights issues deserve equal time to the trade issues that are high priority now -- I hope this gets taken seriously."
He added that issues of trade and censorship were closely linked.
"Since services and information are our most successful exports, if regulations in China effectively prevent us from being competitive, then they are a trade barrier," Brin said.
Brin's remarks coincided with a hearing to be hosted in Washington on Wednesday by the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China on "Google and Internet Control in China: A Nexus Between Human Rights and Trade?"
The Google co-founder also accused arch-rival Microsoft of exploiting the row to score points against his California-based firm.
"I'm very disappointed for them in particular," he said. "As I understand, they have effectively no market share -- so they essentially spoke against freedom of speech and human rights simply in order to contradict Google."
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published online on Wednesday, Brin discussed some of the reasons for Google's dramatic move, telling the newspaper China was increasingly reminding him of his native Soviet Union.
The 36-year-old Brin's parents fled the Soviet Union when he was six years old to escape anti-Semitism and other repression.
China has "made great strides against poverty and whatnot," Brin said.
"But nevertheless, in some aspects of their policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling."
Brin said cyberattacks on Google late last year originating in China were the "straw that broke the camel's back."
"Ultimately I guess it is where your threshold of discomfort is," Brin said. "So we obviously as a company crossed that threshold of discomfort."
Brin told the newspaper that Google is reviewing its other businesses in China, including maps and its music search service.
"We have stepped into a new world and will be looking at all the services," he said.
He expressed hope that China would eventually allow a more open Web.
"I certainly hope that the long-term solution is the liberalization of the Internet in mainland China," Brin said.
Source: AFP American Edition