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March 20, 2010

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Google set to zero in on China decision next week

Google will make a final decision on whether to close its Chinese Website next week, sources told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

It hasn't been decided whether Google will quit the booming Chinese market or how it would do so, Shanghai Daily learned from sources connected to Google and its sales agents.

If Google quits China, the plan is likely to involve shutting down only while striving to maintain other businesses and retaining the company's mobile phone research team and advertising team in China, according to the sources.

Some media reports said that Google, the world's biggest Internet search engine provider, will likely pull out of China, the country with the world's No. 1 Internet population, in the middle of April.

"The issue hasn't been decided yet. People can see the updated news everyday but it leaves too much uncertainty, even to executives in Google China," said a source close to the issue, who declined to be identified.

Google has been talking with Chinese government bureaus in recent weeks to stop censoring search results in its Chinese Website, as the national regulator requests. Otherwise, the company will consider exiting from China, Google said on its official blog in January.

Google will hold a meeting probably late next week to announce its final decision, the source said.

China Business News, citing an unidentified source, reported yesterday that the search engine may announce its exit next Monday and may also reveal plans for its China staff on the same day.

Chinese regulators, including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Commerce, said they hadn't received a notice from Google to exit from China.

Google China's operation was working as usual yesterday and employees didn't get any notice from the headquarters, said a Google staffer based in Shanghai.

"If the company has made big decisions, we would be informed through email immediately," the staffer said yesterday in a phone interview.

Google will probably keep divisions in China, such as the research team for the Android-system used for mobile phones, if Google shuts down, said a separate source, who also declined to be identified.

Most mobile phone vendors, including Motorola and HTC, sell Android-based phones in China. The remaining local research team will allow users to continue updating systems for their phones.

In January, Google said it had decided to stop censoring content after discovering its computers had been hacked from within China, and that the dispute may force it to leave the Chinese market.

The issue raised hot debate among Chinese Netizens and worry from Google's advertising sales agents, which sent a letter to Google China on Wednesday.

The shut down of Google China would probably damage business of its advertising agents and their customers, said the letter published on the CCTV Website signed by 27 Google China advertising agents.

But at least two of the 27 firms denied endorsing the letter, media reported later. has about 35 percent of the Chinese search market since its launch about three years ago, compared with about 60 percent for local rival Baidu Inc, according to Analysys International, a Beijing-based IT consulting firm.



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