Google May Pull Out of China by April

Speculation is rife that Google will officially withdraw from China on April 10, though the company has yet to confirm any such plans. From MarketWatch:

China Business News cited an unidentified business agent for Google’s China unit as saying the company had yet to confirm that it will close some or all of its operations in the country early next month.

“We’ve gotten news saying Google will leave China on April 10, but this piece of news has not yet been confirmed by the Google side,” the report quoted the agent as saying.

An employee within Google China said separately that the company would announce its intentions on Monday, including any compensation plans for employees if it leaves the country, according to the report posted on the China Business News Web site.

The report also said Google agents and employees alike are uncertain whether Google would close just its flagship Chinese search engine at www.google.cn or would shutter all its business operations in the country, including research services and other Web sites.

And a Business Week report says any withdrawal from the China market may be permanent:

The public manner in which Google announced its intention to pull out of the country means they may have “burnt bridges and they’ve burnt the Google brand in China,” Peter Lui, formerly the company’s financial controller for the Asia Pacific region, said in an interview yesterday. “There is no way Google can ever come back.”

Gabriel Stricker, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, declined to comment, as did Jessica Powell, a spokeswoman in Tokyo.

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