Google Inc. is now 99.9 percent certain that it would close its Chinese search engine as its talks with the Communist regime have reached an impasse, a report said.
The Financial Times (FT) reported on Sunday that, "Google has drawn up detailed plans for the closure of its Chinese search engine," and that it is all but certain that it will close its Chinese site, quoting an official with knowledge of the matter.
Google would publicize its decision soon, the report said.
The Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong said at a press event on March 12 that any company that opposes censorship is "unfriendly" and that it "would have to pay for the consequences." Li did not explicitly mention Google.
The FT quoted one senior Google executive that the company is "adamant" about ending censorship, and that it has ruled out handing control of Google.cn to a local player, as Yahoo! Inc. did with its Chinese Web search engine, which is majority owned by China-based Alibaba Inc.
Google has said that stopping censorship on its search engine in China does not equal pulling its business out of China altogether. It has other businesses, such as research and development and Internet advertising, which it plans to keep in the country.
China is currently the world’s largest Internet market—which 384 million users— and Google has a 30 percent market share in the country.
On Jan. 12 the Internet search giant said that it would stop censoring its search results on its China-based Web site, Google.cn, after an influx of Chinese hacker attacks on the company and other U.S.-based companies.
The attacks were aimed at human rights organizations and activists abroad, Google said.
Security experts Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc. said that they are working with U.S. government agencies to trace the source of such attacks.
The cyber attacks became part of a string of recent disagreements between the United States and China on trade issues. The United States has accused China of dumping tires and putting U.S. tire companies out of business, while China has accused of the United States of selling chicken parts at below cost.