March 22, 2010 / 6:25 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. State Dept: Google China announcement likely

(Refiling to add dropped verb in 2nd paragraph)

WASHINGTON, March 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said it was aware of “strong indications” that Internet giant Google Inc (GOOG.O) will make an announcement on Monday about its future in China.

“We’re aware that there are strong indications of an announcement by Google this afternoon, and as we have said throughout this process this is a decision for Google to make,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

“I’m not going to comment on whether we know what Google is going to say. Let’s wait for the announcement and talk afterwards,” Crowley told a news briefing.

Google informed the State Department several days in advance of its January public announcement that it might be forced to pull out of the China market due to hacking and censorship concerns.

A senior U.S. official said the State Department had been given a similar “heads up” in this instance, but declined to provide further information.

Speculation has been swirling that Google is preparing to announce a decision to pull out of China — the world’s largest Internet market by users — or at least shut down its Chinese search engine.

Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Sandra Maler

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