Chinese surprise at Google pull-out threat

by admin January 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Google’s warning that it might pull out of China over cyber attacks has surprised human rights activists here.

They seem unfazed that China is accused of trying to hack into their Gmail accounts. But a major foreign firm like Google being prepared to speak out and challenge the government so directly is unusual.

The Chinese authorities will be infuriated that Google has made its announcement before negotiations with officials have got under way.

China has so far said little publicly in response.

An unnamed official quoted by the state news agency Xinhua said only that the authorities were trying to find out more about Google’s suggestion it might leave the country.

The company’s main Chinese rival Baidu is less reticent. In a blog post that has since been taken down, the firm’s chief architect Sun Yunfeng claimed Google was just trying to play down its market failure.

“Would Google top executives still proclaim that they would ‘do no evil’,” he said, quoting the company’s code of conduct, “and quit China if they had taken 80% of China’s search market?”

Google’s market share is estimated to be around 30% in China, about half the size of Baidu’s, the search engine market leader.

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