The United States on Tuesday said Google's action to shut its mainland Chinese-language portal was a business decision by the company that did not involve the U.S. government.

Google on Monday began rerouting searches to its Hong Kong site, drawing angry criticism from China.

This was a business decision by Google, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.

As to the issue of Internet freedom and the flow of information around the world, including the flow of information within China, that will be something that we continue our discussion with China on, he said.

Google startled the world and business community in January when it said it might quit China over Internet censorship and after a sophisticated hacking attack that it said came from within China.

Google's decision came during heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington over issues ranging from Internet freedom to the yuan exchange rate, economic sanctions on Iran and U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan.

Ultimately individual businesses will make judgments as to the investment opportunity in China, Crowley said.

We value the economic relationship between the United States and China, he said. That said, I think were I China, I would seriously consider the implications when one of the world's most recognizable institutions has decided that it's too difficult to do business in China.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Paul Simao)