BEIJING: Netizens said Tuesday Google's withdrawal from the Chinese mainland was only a "publicity stunt" while experts believed the online search giant had abandoned its cheese when no others moved it.
Google announced Tuesday morning that it had stopped censoring its Chinese-language search engine Google.cn and redirected Chinese mainland users to another portal in Hong Kong.
Google's earlier threats to pull out of China and its latest move to reroute traffic to Hong Kong were just "publicity stunts," said a netizen named Ding Wei on the Internet industrial network www.sootoo.com.
"Google's redirecting Google.cn to Google.com.hk is a compromised decision reflecting that the company wants to save its reputation in China," the netizen said.
Google said in Tuesday's statement it still intended to continue research and development and maintain a sales staff in the Chinese mainland.
Experts interviewed by Xinhua said they believed Google's latest move was mainly out of business and market concerns, adding that Baidu and other Internet companies doing business in China would benefit from Google's withdrawal.
"Google faces censorship in about 25 countries, but why does it only quit the Chinese mainland? Because it can not beat Baidu," said Dr. Wang Yu, a Nanjing University lecturer.
"Google does not give up its smart phone operating system Android or other partnerships with domestic Internet companies, because unlike Google.cn, they are all promising," said Wang who specializes in network information studies.
The domestic search giant Baidu would not be the only beneficiary of Google's exit.
"Google's about 30 percent market share in search services on the mainland will be absorbed not only by search engine rivals but also companies doing other search-related businesses," said Li Zhi, a senior analyst with Analysys International, a leading Chinese Internet consulting company.
According to Analysys, Baidu occupies about 60 percent of the market share. Sohu's Sogou, Tencent's Soso and other new-comers including Microsoft's Bing were all eyeing Google's share of the market, analysts said.
Microsoft's Beijing office said in an email reply to Xinhua on Tuesday that the company regarded China as the most important online search service market.
"The pull-out is the price to pay for Google's move of politicizing commercial issues," Li Zhi said.
Sean Tzou, CEO of Trina Solar Limited, a US joint venture based in Changzhou of Jiangsu Province, said the biggest challenge for many joint ventures in China was their willingness and ability to adapt to the local environment.