The tug-of-war between Google and the Chinese government has reached an impasse and it seems imminent that the internet-giant will be pulling out of China shortly. According to a report by the Financial Times, Google’s decision to shut down its Chinese operations is almost final.
A hacking attempt from China in December and a censorship attempt by the Chinese authorities led to Google threatening to move out of China last month. Not to be miffed, the Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong, struck back at Google saying, “If [Google] takes steps that violate Chinese laws, that would be unfriendly, that would be irresponsible, and they would have to bear the consequences.”
This statement from the minister has all but ended censorship talks between Google and the Chinese authorities. FT’s report states that Google has already started drawing up detailed plans for closing down Google.cn and the official decision and announcement should come very soon. The only reason for any sort of delay in the decision is Google’s wish to have a proper closure and also protect its local employees from any retaliatory action by the Chinese authorities.
At the same time, certain Google officials clearly hope to continue working in the country. Talking about the China situation, Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive said. “It’s very important to know we are not pulling out of China. We have a good business in China. This is about the censorship rules, not anything else.”
China too has made it clear that it would like Google to continue operating in the country. The ball is now firmly in Google’s court and what actions the company takes remains to be seen. The only certainty at the moment is the closure of Google.cn.
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