Last updated: March 15, 2010 - 9:17am
Google appears increasingly likely to shutter its Chinese-language search engine, a step that would remove one of the last major foreign players from the world's most populous and fastest-growing Internet market.
A person familiar with the situation said on Saturday that Google is likely to take action within weeks. Separately, Chinese authorities on Friday told local news Web sites that Google's Chinese site is likely to close and that, if it does, the news sites will be required to use only official accounts of the situation, rather than publish stories from anywhere else, according to a person familiar with the order. Google and Chinese authorities have been in talks about the extent to which the U.S. Internet giant will be able to operate a business in China if it follows through on its pledge two months ago to stop following government censorship requirements on its Chinese site, Google.cn. Those talks increasingly appear deadlocked, and Google's hopes for being able to operate Google.cn without filtering results—which were always thin—have all but disappeared. On Friday, Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong, asked by a reporter about Google's plan to stop filtering results, said doing so would be "irresponsible" and warned that the company would "have to bear the consequences" if it violates China's rules. His comments reinforced expectations that the authorities will force Google.cn to close if the company stops censoring it.
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