Rumor Mill: Google 99% Ready to Pull Out of China
Article by George Norman
On 15 Mar 2010
The Google-China story is getting close to an end – or so it seems. You might remember that back in January Google announced its corporate infrastructure was targeted by a “highly sophisticated” attack that originated from China. After the attack, Google decided that enough is enough and that unless they are allowed to stop censoring search results on Google.cn, then Google would have to “review the feasibility of [its] business operations in China” – which is a fancy way of saying they will pack up and go.

As a little side note, after the attack it came out that a security hole in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was one of the vectors used in the attack (see here). Also after the attack, Microsoft said it condemns the attack, but cannot support Google’s decision to pull out of China (see here).

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After lengthy negotiations with the Chinese authorities, a stalemate has been reached. Google continues to stand behind its decision to stop censoring search results in China, and if that is not the option, it is prepared to leave the country. The Chinese authorities stand behind the law and warn Google that it will have to bear the consequences if it violates China’s laws and regulations – laws and regulations that state search results must be censored.

According to the Financial Times, Google has drawn up plans to close Google.cn and is “99.9 percent” certain to shut the Chinese search engine down. The newspaper said it obtained this information from a person familiar with Google’s inner workings. This person said that a decision on whether to shut down Google.cn could be made very soon, but Google may take some time in following through with its plans. Google would have to go through an orderly closure of its operations in China to protect local employees from retaliation from the local authorities.

Some of Google’s biggest web partners have been advised to prepare for the eventuality that Google.cn might cease activity. Advertisers are advised to move to rival search engines – like Baidu, the biggest search engine in China.

“When we talk to clients, we have been pushing them in the direction of Baidu more,” said for BusinessWeek Vincent Kobler, managing director at EmporioAsia Leo Burnett in Shanghai, company that purchases advertising from Google and Baidu on behalf of customers. “The Chinese government has taken a firm stance, and Google, they have their own principles and are going to shut down.”



Tags: Google, China, Censorhip
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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