Last updated: March 12, 2010 - 9:15am
Apparently, Google could stop censoring its Web-search results in China within weeks, but the company isn't likely to withdraw from the country entirely.
Google may end up making individual agreements with different Chinese agencies to allow it to operate some parts of its business in a patchwork arrangement. At issue is whether the company can operate its Chinese search engine, google.cn, without filtering out some results -- and if not, what other aspects of its operations in China could continue to function. In addition to operating google.cn, the company has sales, research, and other operations, including investments in Chinese companies, that could be allowed to continue operating even if google.cn is closed. Google has about 700 employees in China.
The Chinese government requires that Web search engines filter out some results, such as certain political speech and pornography. Google has expressed discomfort with having to censor search results since it launched google.cn in 2006. Back then it said the increased access to information made possible by its search engine outweighed the cost of having to filter out some results. If Google can't reach a deal with the Chinese government over google.cn, officials could pull the plug on the site since the government controls all ".cn" Web addresses. But the company could operate a new Chinese-language Web site from outside mainland China that could still be accessible by Chinese users.
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