Chinese shrug shoulders at possible Google pull-out

By Ben Blanchard and Melanie Lee

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, March 22 (BestGrowthStock) – With speculation
swirling that Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis) (GOOG.O: ) will soon announce the
closure of its China-based Internet portal, the reaction from
some Chinese has been hurry up and leave, or simply: so what?

On Friday, the China Business News reported Google may make
an announcement as early as Monday on whether it will pull out
of China. [ID:nTOE621006]

Google has not formally unveiled any such plans.

Two months since Google said it would no longer agree to
abide by Beijing’s censorship rules even if that meant shutting
down its Google.cn site, some Chinese Internet users and state
newspapers are baying for the company to pull out.

The burst of angry Chinese comments suggested that, in
spite of the widespread popularity of Google amongst educated
Chinese, the government is steering state-run media and
websites to lump the company together with other recent
disputes with Washington that have stirred nationalist rancour
in China.

“Get the hell out,” wrote one user on the website of the
nationalist tabloid the Global Times (www.huanqiu.com), in
remarks echoed by other readers.

“Ha ha, I’m going to buy firecrackers to celebrate!” wrote
another, in anticipation of the company confirming its
departure from the online search market.

Joseph Cheng, a City University of Hong Kong politics
professor, said China’s ruling Communist Party was deploying
nationalism to stifle debate about censorship.

“The criticism of cultural exports, or cultural
imperialism, is a kind of defence to justify the Chinese
authorities’ censorship controls,” said Cheng.

“In dealing with the American government, the Chinese
authorities will try to emphasise that this is only a
commercial dispute and has nothing to do with Sino-American
relations,” he added.

GOOD RIDDANCE?

The Global Times in an editorial cited online surveys as
showing 80 percent of respondents said they could not care less
if Google withdrew from China, the world’s largest Internet
market with an estimated 384 million users.

The saga was a reminder of the country’s need to develop
its own technology and not rely on foreigners, the editorial
said.

“This is a high-tech competition, and also a competition to
uphold the state’s sovereignty,” the editorial said.

Some bloggers went a step further and accused Google of
being in cahoots with U.S. intelligence.

“It is understood that Google is very tight with the CIA,”
wrote “Xiaogui” on the popular portal sina.com.cn. “Take this
opportunity to leave now, you spies.”

Though Google has remained mum on the progress of talks,
the firm’s chief executive said earlier this month that an
outcome is expected “soon”.

The Google case has spread beyond censorship and hacking
and has become a diplomatic knot in Sino-U.S. relations,
already being challenged by spats over Taiwan, Tibet and the
value of the Chinese currency.

The United States is studying whether it can legally
challenge Chinese Internet restrictions, a top U.S. trade
official said recently.

Over the weekend, a commentary by the official Xinhua news
agency accused Google of pushing a political agenda by
“groundlessly accusing the Chinese government” of supporting
hacker attacks and by trying to export its own culture, values
and ideas.

Stock Market Basics

(Additional reporting by Stefanie McIntyre in Hong Kong;
Editing by Jerry Norton)

Chinese shrug shoulders at possible Google pull-out