SHANGHAI, March 13 (Reuters) - Talks with China over censorship have reached an apparent impasse and Google, the world’s largest search engine, is now “99.9 percent” certain to shut its Chinese search engine, the Financial Times said on Saturday.
It said in a report on its website Google (GOOG.O) had drawn up detailed plans for closing its Chinese search engine.
The newspaper cited a person familiar with the company’s thinking as saying that, while a decision could be made very soon, Google was likely to take some time to follow through with its plans.
That would be in order to bring about an orderly closure as the company takes steps to protect local employees from retaliation by authorities, it said.
China warned Google on Friday against flouting the country’s laws, as expectations grow for a resolution to a public battle over censorship and cyber-security.
Google shocked business and political circles in January when it threatened to pull out of China if it could not offer an unfiltered Chinese search engine. The threat came after cyber attacks originating from China on it and about 30 other firms.
“If you don’t respect Chinese laws, you are unfriendly and irresponsible, and the consequences will be on you,” China’s Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Li Yizhong, told reporters on Friday in answer to a question on what China would do if Google.cn simply stopped filtering search results. [ID:nTOE62B07M]
That came after the chief executive of Google, Eric Schmidt, said on Wednesday he hoped to announce soon a result to talks with Chinese authorities on offering an uncensored search engine in China. [ID:nN10162727]
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology shares oversight of the Chinese Internet with a number of other bodies. Still more bureaucracies are involved in matters of foreign investment, complicating the Chinese government’s response to Google’s challenge.
Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Paul Tait