Last week, Chinese officials reported that Google was in talks about their threats to leave the country (or only partially) if they’re forced to continue censoring search results. Also, Chinese officials reported that Google was not in talks with the government.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt declined to comment on the state of negotiations a conference in the United Arab Emirates today. However, he did say that “we’re in active negotiations with the Chinese government, and there is no specific timetable,” although he promised “Something will happen soon.”
Google announced a hacking attempt targeted at the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists in January. They suspected that the attack may have originated in the Chinese government on some level, and announced they would no longer agree to censor search results. However, nothing has changed—yet.
Soon after Google’s statement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the matter, urging China to review the breach as well. This prompted suspicion that Google’s withdrawal threats were directed by the US government. Schmidt denied that today:
“The Google action was not in any way advanced or coordinated with the U.S. government except post-facto,” he said in response to questions. “Google’s discussions are with the Chinese government, and they do not involve the U.S. government. The U.S. government’s doing its thing unrelated to Google.”
Schmidt’s statement is pretty open-ended: “something” and “soon.” What kind of timeline do you think we’re looking at—and what do you think the end result will be?