March 19, 2010

Report Claims Google Exiting China on April 10

An unverified report in Friday's edition of the China Business News states that Google will end its Internet presence in the country on April 10.

The newspaper is quoting an unidentified sales associate employed by the company as stating that they have "received information saying that Google will leave China on April 10, but this information has not at present been confirmed by Google."

An official announcement from the Menlo Park, California search engine and computer technologies firm is expected Monday. In an emailed response for comment, a Google official told Computerworld reporter Sharon Gaudin, "We have repeatedly made clear that we are not going to comment on our discussions with the Chinese government."

If true, the April 10 pullout could mark the end of the ongoing battle between Beijing officials and Google, who announced in January that they were going to begin offering uncensored search engine results on their Google.cn website. That, according to members of the Chinese government, would have been illegal and constituted a violation of an agreement made between the two parties when Google first launched their .cn service in 2007.

Nonetheless, the company remained committed to eliminating censorship on its .cn website. As Google vice president and deputy general counsel Nicole Wong told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this month, "Google is firm in its decision" to provide unfiltered comment and vowed to pull out of the country if negotiations with those in Beijing fell through.

However, even a Google withdrawal from China might not end the matter completely. As Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yao Jian told Reuters reporters on March 16, "We hope that whether Google Inc continues operating in China or makes other choices, it will respect Chinese legal regulations."


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