Google China Closure Imminent, Reports Suggest

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has been considering pulling out of China for a few months now, saying it is no longer prepared to meet official demands to filter results its in line with Chinese government rules.

The dispute heated up around the time Google was the victim of a substantial hacking attack, and while no link to the Chinese government has been proven, it's believed in some circles that the attack was an attempt to access the Gmail accounts of political opponents of the ruling Communist party.

Officials Forewarn of Google Closure

Chinese officials are now said to have contacted several major websites that use Google search boxes and warned them to make preparations for using a different search provider. The New York Times reports this may be an attempt by the government to minimize the disruption to users if Google does pull out.

While that may be a genuine concern about the ease of use for domestic Internet searchers, it's likely to also be in hope of downplaying the Google closure so that people don't ask why it has gone. (Source:

Meanwhile, several sources report that Google is on the verge of pulling the plug, with the Wall Street Journal saying the company's hopes of running the site without any filtering have "all but disappeared." The ideal situation for Google would have been to continue running a China-based site but have the censorship carried out directly by officials rather than block results themselves. (Source: may Close, but not

It's highly unlikely that Google will simply stop filtering results: to do so would directly breach Chinese laws and leave local staff at legal risk. However, the New York Times believes the first step in response to such a measure would see the government attempt to disrupt access to the site.

A Google pullout would only be in the form of closing its site in China, The firm would still make available to Chinese users, though it would almost certainly continue to suffer from results being censored by government firewalls.

Google would also still maintain a presence in China, most notably to strike deals with cellphone manufacturers to use its Android operating system.

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