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Google has not halted censoring search results

By Wang Xing (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-16 06:37
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BEIJING: Google China said on Monday that it is complying with regulations to censor search results on its website, although earlier reports said the company plans to stop doing so as negotiations with the government are reportedly at a stalemate.

Marsha Wang, spokesperson for Google China, said the company is providing filtered search results on Google.cn.

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"We are still doing that (providing censored search results), and have not received any orders to shut down the business," Wang said.

According to a weekend report in the Financial Times citing unnamed sources, Google has drawn up detailed plans for the closure of its Chinese search engine and is now "99.9 per cent" certain to go ahead.

A Reuters report also said on Monday that the possibility of Google's shutdown is mounting, citing an anonymous company spokesperson.

Wang declined to comment on whether Google's talks with the Chinese government are nearing a close, noting that she and the whole Google China team are waiting for the result.

But she said operations were normal and that Google China has not received any orders to warn its advertising clients about the risk of the company's possible pullout.

Google has been in negotiations with Chinese authorities over providing unfiltered online services since its announcement two months ago of alleged cyber attacks and its unwillingness to continue censoring its search results on Google.cn.

But the talks seem to have come to a dead end as the two sides refuse to budge from their stances.

The US search engine last week was planning to stop censorship of search results on its Chinese website within weeks, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

That drew a sharp response from Li Yizhong, China's Minister of Industry and Information Technology, who said Friday that Google will "bear the consequences" if it stops censoring search results on its local website. He said China's Internet market will continue to grow with or without Google.

On Sunday, a New York Times report said that Chinese authorities had warned major partners of Google's China-based search engine that they must comply with censorship laws and require them to prepare backup plans in case Google ceases censoring the results of searches on its local search engine.

Edward Yu, president of domestic research firm Analysys International, said it is unclear how the negotiations between the Chinese government and Google will end. "It seems like neither side would like to make any compromise," he said.