The big piece of news over the weekend is that Google is now, in fact, 99.9% certain it will be shutting down its China search engine operations after negotiations… well, didn’t go so well?
It seems like Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s comments that the whole debacle was drawing to a close were true – though perhaps not in the way Google had hoped. Li Yizhong, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, words for if Google did follow up on its threat to uncensor search results were equally threatening: “If you don’t respect Chinese laws, you are unfriendly and irresponsible, and the consequences will be on you.”
Anyway, to get everyone up to speed, here’s some conjecture, speculation and official opinions on the whole shebang from a smattering of web news sources:
- According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is likely to “take action within weeks.” Also, Chinese authorities have already told local news sites that if Google.cn does shut down, they are only to publish the “official accounts of the situation.”
- Google’s biggest web partners have also been warned that “they should prepare backup plans in case Google ceases censoring the results of searches,” says the New York Times. These web partners include Sina and Ganji, who both use Google search boxes.
- Google China has not yet released a statement in response, but a Beijing-based spokesperson for the company said its business was still “normal,” according to the Global Times. Wang Jinhong denied media reports that Google employees are planning to resign in droves after the company doles out its year-end bonus at the end of March.
- Premier Wen Jiabao has reiterated that despite what’s happening with certain foreign companies (though he didn’t mention which), the country welcomes them to legally operate in China and that they are treated equally.
- At least one other foreign company is profiting from Google’s possible oust: Microsoft is putting its Bing search engine on Chinese Android phones… specifically, the new ones from Motorola.