The saga over web giant Google’s threat to leave China over cyber-spying and censorship concerns continues after the company denied reports that it had already made a decision and was set to quit the world’s biggest Internet market.
Google, the world’s most popular search engine, said last week it was thinking about quitting China after suffering a sophisticated cyber-attack on its network, focusing on rights activists.
The Google row risks deepening the growing rift between China and the U.S.
Relations are already strained by arguments over the Chinese currency’s exchange rate, trade protectionism and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
Google said it was no longer willing to filter content on its Chinese language Google.cn, and the announcement captured the attention of many of China’s 384 million netizens, the world’s largest Internet market by users, with blogs and local media citing unnamed insiders as saying Google has already decided to close its offices in China.
However, a company employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said that no decision had been made and that Google was still negotiating with the government.
He said that Google employees in China were just as surprised as anyone else when the blog posting went up at 7 a.m. local time last Wednesday.
We got quite a surprise. But the company looks after you well, so we’re not worried,” he said.
China has tried to play down Google’s threat to leave, saying there were many ways to resolve the issue, but insisting all foreign companies, Google included, must abide by Chinese laws.
Meanwhile, on Saturday the Alibaba e-commerce group, which runs Taobao, China’s largest online retailer as well as China’s largest e-commerce website Alibaba.com, described as “reckless” remarks by its major shareholder, Yahoo.
Alibaba Group has communicated to Yahoo! that Yahoo’s statement that it is ‘aligned’ with the position Google took last week was reckless given the lack of facts in evidence,” the firm said in a statement.
Alibaba wants Yahoo to sell its stake in the wider group, but Yahoo views the now multi-billion dollar stake in Alibaba as a key investment in China.