China's IT ministry has not formally talked to Google about its row with the Chinese government, an official said, leaving unclear the status of negotiations after the ministry's head said Google was holding talks with the Chinese government.
Google also has not given a report on its allegations of hacking to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which helps regulate the Internet sector, Vice Minister Miao Wei was quoted as saying late Saturday by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The remarks came after ministry head Li Yizhong earlier said China was talking with Google to settle the row, according to Reuters, marking the first Chinese government confirmation of talks with the company.
Li was not cited as giving details and his remark could have referred to talks between Google and a different branch of the Chinese government. But Chinese state media on Monday appeared further to play down Li's statement by citing him declining to comment on whether authorities were still in talks with Google.
"On this matter, Google knows it best itself," he was quoted as saying in the state-run China Daily.
Google did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The remarks by the IT vice minister appeared partly aimed at preventing harm from the Google row to U.S. ties. The Google problem is a "technical" one that "has not risen to the level of affecting China-U.S. relations," Miao was cited as saying.
Google said in January it had been hit by cyberattacks apparently launched from China and that it planned to stop censoring results on its China-based search engine, a move that would defy Chinese regulations. Google said soon afterward that it was in talks with China and still hoped to stay in the country.
Google.cn is still censoring results for politically sensitive search terms such as Tiananmen, the name of the square in Beijing where the government crushed pro-democracy protests in 1989.