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Google vs China

25 January, 2010
By Allison Orr

Internet search engine giant Google has said it may pull out of China, after suffering a "sophisticated and targeted" attack in December.  According to Google’s official blog, the attack was not just on Google, but on at least twenty other large companies, with the primary purpose of accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

This has led the company to "review the feasibility of operations in China".  Google says it is no longer willing to censor results on its Chinese search engine – Google.cn, and will be meeting with the government shortly to discuss how this can be done within the law.  If Google can’t reconcile their position with Beijing authorities, then they may mean shut down Google.cn and Google’s offices in China.

The issue looks as though it may spill over from being a business matter to one that may affect US-China relations.  Washington said it would issue a diplomatic note to China to formally request an explanation.  Tensions have reignited in the last week with Hillary Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom, highly critical of China’s Internet regime.  The situation has also become more complex since it has been revealed by Reuters that Google is investigating whether one or more of its own employees may have helped facilitate the attack.

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