Google to pull plug on China?
Google may end operations in China
After a major attack on Google gmail accounts (among those were Chinese activists) last December, Google looks like it may be about to pull out of China. While not directly accusing the Chinese Government of the attacks Google said they were no longer prepared to censor their Chinese results as agreed in 2006.
While Google.cn only accounts for 12% of the Chinese search market, worth $600 million to Google, they do have an influence on Chinese thinking due to the vast number of users online. As part of Google’s investigations they also found attacks on 20 other major companies from the US and Europe.
Google say that ‘over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China’.
It is almost certain that Google will be blocked from operating in China in the way they now wish. What may be harder for the Chinese Government is explaining the search engines abscence Google as many users have come to rely on Google for an alternative way to gather information.
It is also going to be intersting to see how other foreign companies in China react to this news. One suspects it will be heads down but we shall see if they are going to stand up and be counted. This could be a moment of change for the online community in China, one way or another.
Shares in Google fell by over 1% last night and not surprisingly Baidu was up as they are expected to pick the lions’ share of Googles’ Chinese revenue.
Ineteresting photo here of people laying flowers outside Google’s office in Bejing in China.