Google To Leave China?

March 19th, 2010 |


Jeff Louis is a strategic media planner, brand project manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. He's intrigued by innovation overcoming adversity, survival of the fittest brand, history, reading, and similar fun stuff. He writes for sites and is the Public Relations and Advertising writer for the Chicago Examiner.

Google China

Google’s finally had enough. After working with the rigors of conducting business behind the Red Curtain since 2006, AllThingsD announced that the Chinese version of Google,,  looks like they may retreat. The earliest the company would be out of the Communist country would be April 2010. A press release is expected in the next couple of days.

Yet, is it really a retreat? You might remember that Google – and up to 30 other online, tech-related companies like Adobe and Yahoo! – fell victim to cyber attacks in 2009 and 2010. The attacks, partially aimed at discovering the identities of Chinese dissidents, were traced to an island off the coast of China.

In early January, Chief Legal Officer and Google’s SVP, David Drummond, released much of the information regarding the attacks during an interview with CNBC. At the time, Drummond outlined Google’s stance on the company’s blog:

“These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered — combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the Web — have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on”

According to Drummond, one option was to shutter Google’s Chinese offices and pull out of the country. This meant that Google would be walking away from the largest potential growth market in the world. Drummond’s message was clear: Stop the attacks and censorship or we’ll cease to conduct business in China.

China responded with a statement that welcomed foreign business ventures as long as companies conducting business


Flowers in China

in China respected Chinese law. This included self or state imposed censorship. If foreign businesses worked under these conditions, they would be able to operate “freely” inside China.  The Chinese government, however, claimed no responsibility for the attacks.

While users laid flowers outside Google’s Chinese headquarters in a sign of respect, the weeks following Google’s ultimatum were met by an eerie silence. Behind closed doors, both “super powers” undoubtedly worked to create solutions that would allow both to “save face” while keeping the tenuous relationship intact.

The quiet was broken yesterday.

The China Business News quoted an official with an unidentified Chinese advertising agency as saying Google would go through with its threatened withdrawal on April 10th, but that Google had yet to confirm the pull-out

While conjecture at this point, if the above statement is true, this will mark the first major U.S. corporation operating in China to cease operations based on principle and stick to their famous corporate slogan: Don’t Be Evil.

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Jeff Louis