Mark your calendars for April 10!
That’s the day that Google is reportedly going to officially pull out of China, with the announcement coming as early as Monday.
According to Bloomberg (via China Business News) this is all based on a tip from an anonymous sales person inside Google’s Chinese office–I could make a bad joke about the game of Chinese Whispers, but I won’t.
Anyway, I really can’t help but ponder the real reason Google is pulling out. Is it because of the security issues? Is it because the search engine is struggling to dominate the search market? Surely its decision isn’t purely a stance on censorship. After all, China’s not the only country that requires Google to censor its results:
In Turkey, it’s a crime to defame the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk or to ridicule "Turkishness." So Google restricts access to videos that the government of Turkey deems illegal on google.com.tr.
In Germany, France and Poland, it is illegal to publish pro-Nazi material or content that denies the Holocaust. To comply with those countries’ laws, Google does not display links to those sites on its search results pages on the company’s German site google.de, French site google.fr or Polish site google.pl.
Yet, Google’s not pulling out of those countries anytime soon. Which makes me think that "censorship" is a nice clean–publicly supported–reason to quietly noisily shutter its China operations, without having to admit defeat.
PS. There’s one search engine that can’t wait for Google to exit China–Baidu’s shares are skyrocketing!