Google says China talks continue, but pullout signs grow

Google Inc, the world’s biggest search engine, has been in a two-month standoff with Beijing over restrictions on the Internet and Google’s claims that it and other companies were hit by hacking from within China.

The company’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, said last week he hoped to announce soon an outcome from talks with Chinese officials on offering an uncensored search engine in that country of 384 million Internet users.

Many experts have doubted China’s ruling Communist Party would compromise on censorship, and on the weekend the Financial Times reported the talks had reached an impasse and Google was “99.9 percent” certain to shut its Chinese search engine,

“Our forecast has always remained firm that once Google announced it would not accept censorship, then it was nearly impossible to imagine a scenario either where Google didn’t act on that or the government accepted their position,” Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting, told Reuters.

A critical commentary on the website of the official Xinhua news agency appeared to assume that Google’s pull-back was a certainty.

“The planet won’t stop spinning because Google leaves, and Chinese Internet users will still remain online without Google,” said the Chinese-language comment issued on Sunday.

“In the past, China’s Internet developed very well without Google, and we can be sure that in the future, it will also develop in the same healthy way without Google.”

The New York Times reported on Monday that Google’s online partners in China had received a government notice on what to do if censoring stops, warning them not to follow the U.S. company’s example.

China obliges Internet operators to block words and images the ruling Communist Party deems unacceptable.


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