Stay out of China if you want, was Xinhua’s message to “two-faced” Google yesterday.

Responding to comments made by the internet giant’s chairman Eric Schmidt in Hong Kong earlier this week that the company was in no hurry to return to the mainland unless censorship relaxes, an editorial by the state-run news agency said Google was in no position morally to make such demands.

The editorial accused the Mount View, California, company of collaborating with the US government in spying on users’ data, citing recent media reports.

A Google spokeswoman in Hong Kong said the company had no comment on Xinhua’s commentary.

The technology firm relocated its Chinese-language search services to Hong Kong from the mainland in 2010 after failed attempts to fight mainland regulations requiring it to censor search results.

“China’s censorship regime has gotten significantly worse since we left, so something would have to change before we come back,” Schmidt told TheWall Street Journal on Sunday.

Calling Schmidt’s remarks “Google’s latest stunt targeted at China”, Xinhua described Google as an “accomplice” to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) global surveillance programme.

“Google’s accusations of China’s internet censorship are extremely hypocritical,” the commentary went on. “Let it be, if two-faced Google does not want to return to the mainland Chinese market.”

The Washington Post reported last week that the NSA had secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Google and Yahoo data centres around the world, according to documents obtained by former NSA contractor and whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Schmidt told The Wall Street Journal that the allegations would be “outrageous” if proven.

In a separate interview with the South China Morning Post this week, Schmidt also spoke of his concern over the mainland’s recent judicial interpretation on “libellous” online messages and urged Beijing to allow its people to think and speak freely if the world’s second-largest economy wanted to grow further.

The judicial rule stipulates that any internet user posting any libellous content that gets more than 500 reposts or more than 5,000 views could face up to three years in jail.